Wellington Scoop

Kiwibank launches ‘boots and paws’ taskforce

Press Release – Predator Free NZ
Kiwibank has joined forces with Predator Free New Zealand Trust and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to put boots – and paws – on the ground to protect the country’s native wildlife.

Under the initiative, Kiwibank and Predator Free New Zealand Trust will establish the Kiwibank Predator Free Communities Programme. Communities wanting to take up the predator free challenge will be supported through subsidised traps, advice and expertise with the long-term goal of setting a trap in every fifth backyard.

Kiwibank will also resource DOC’s Conservation Dogs programme. This will allow DOC to pilot New Zealand’s first specialist conservation dog unit with two full-time dog handlers. The unit is expected to increase both surveillance and the number of quarantine inspections by 15%. It will also allow DOC to respond faster to pest incursions.

Kiwibank CEO Paul Brock said the bank’s nationwide reach would help New Zealanders win the nation’s biggest conservation battle.

“We believe this is a challenge that is bigger than each of us but not bigger than all of us.”

“Wellington’s Crofton Downs suburb, which recently became predator free, shows how volunteerism and community spirit can achieve the exceptional. Similarly, DOC’s world-leading Conservation Dogs initiative has achieved remarkable results in the conservation of endemic species like the kākāpō, kiwi and takahē.”

“We’re going to help these human and four-legged volunteers take up the predator free challenge and make achieving New Zealand’s ‘Apollo Project’ a reality.”

DOC’s Conservation Dogs programme uses highly trained dogs and professional handlers for conservation work with protected species. Today there are 80 conservation dogs in New Zealand – 45 find protected species, 35 find pests. The two full time conservation dog handlers will join DOC’s team of 67 part-time handlers.

DOC’s Director General Lou Sanson said DOC was delighted to welcome Kiwibank as a partner to its Conservation Dog programme.

“Working together with Kiwibank will help us to unleash the potential of these incredible dogs and means we will be able to do more conservation and quarantine work on our pest-free islands.”

In 2014, Crofton Downs became the country’s first predator-free suburb. The goal of the Kiwibank partnership is to take the Crofton Downs model to every community in New Zealand. Initially, 10 residential communities will be supported by the Kiwibank Predator Free Communities programme.

Sir Rob Fenwick, Chairman of Predator Free New Zealand, said he wants birds back in the burbs.

“The war on predators is widening to drive rats, possums and stoats out of towns and places where lots of people live.

“This partnership will offer support to communities that want to clean out predators. We’ll help neighbourhoods with sourcing traps and equipment; providing advice on project management and monitoring predator numbers.

“Future generations will wonder why we tolerated allowing these filthy exotic predators to take over New Zealand. Rats, possums, and stoats live where people live – in towns and cities. As well as predating on our wildlife they carry serious diseases.

“The secret weapon in this battle is our army of volunteers. Countless New Zealanders dedicating millions of hours to protecting nature.

“We’re delighted Kiwibank want to partner with us. They know what it is to be ‘uniquely kiwi’. We want to link up with their one million customers and thousands of staff members all over the land, to lend us a hand,” he said.

Communities interested in becoming predator free can contact Predator Free New Zealand (www.predatorfreenz.org) to find out more. Individuals wanting to do their part by controlling predators in their backyards can also find advice and information on predatorfreenz.org.

An interview with DOC dog handler Fin Buchanan and pest detection dog ‘Pai’ can be accessed HERE.

Predator Free New Zealand Trust

Established in 2013, Predator Free NZ Trust is an independent trust committed to reducing the nation’s predator populations, including rats, stoats, possums, weasels and ferrets. The trust engages with everyday New Zealanders to work at the grassroots and make communities predator free.

Their focus is to:

• Grow the vision and tell the story of a Predator Free NZ.

• Support and grow the national army of volunteers.

• Connect community groups, private landowners, hapu and iwi.

DOC’s Conservation Dogs

New Zealand was the first country to use dogs to benefit conservation as far back as the 1890s. Today, conservation dogs are used all over New Zealand.

Protected-species detection dogs are primarily trained to locate and indicate specific target species so the handler can then capture the animal for banding, monitoring or relocation. These species include the kākāpō, kiwi, whio, pāteke and takahē.

Pest detection dogs have been used to indicate the presence of target predators (stoats, rodents or cats). In the majority of situations, these dogs indicate the subtle sign or scent of the target animal rather than locate the live animal. This information is then used to attempt to eradicate the animal or animals by other methods like trapping, poisoning or shooting.


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  1. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 9. September 2016, 12:13

    Appears to be a bad business move for Kiwibank. Feline Rights NZ has already received messages from supporters stating they will be banking elsewhere because of this.

  2. Paul, 9. September 2016, 15:10

    Cats aren’t on the list. I believe some may still be found in Crofton Downs.

  3. Stephanie, 25. January 2017, 5:49

    This is a genuine concern for the wellbeing of loved pets. It should also serve to highlight the greater issue of individuals who do not spay or neuter their pets and allow them to breed at nauseam. This is something they need to consider assisting with. TNR is and has been proven to be an effective method of population control and should be utilized. Managed community cats are not as big a threat as considered by extremists.
    I myself have several cats and am concerned for what this may mean. I am also a kiwibank customer but am going to look at other banking options as I refuse to support a company that jeopardizes the welfare of even my own pets.
    I can see why this looks like a good move on their part but unless kiwibank can guarantee the safety of loved pets, I will be taking my business elsewhere.

  4. CC, 25. January 2017, 11:16

    It is crazy logic to suggest that initiatives to save native species should be jeopardised to protect free roaming feral and domestic cats. Hopefully, those who value the future will support all initiatives, including Kiwibank’s, that will reverse NZ’s illogical sleepwalk toward condemning its indigenous species to the fate of the dodo.

  5. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 25. January 2017, 15:15

    It’s one thing for the Department of Conservation to apply ‘pest control’ on the land they administer, the same goes for farmers on their farms, however it is a gross misuse of power for DoC to extend its reach into communities and bring local government onboard as a partner to follow its approach to ‘pest control’ on reserve land within and close to cities and within residential neighborhoods.

    When reintroduced native birds fly from beyond the boundaries of one of the sanctuaries and suffer misfortune due to the risks of an urban environment, the conservationists are to blame for holding misconceptions that reintroduction of a particular species can be done in an urban environment. Some species will be able to be successfully reintroduced, others will not. Demonizing cats as being the single problematical factor is moronic, because it does not address all of the issues.

    Urban areas come with an array of risks. Kaka who leave the sanctuary are at risk from well meaning amateur bird lovers feeding them inappropriate food, and Kaka have a taste for the lead on some roofs which is of course poisonous. Tui have a habit of flying into windows after dining on fermented nectar. But for all the risks of urban living, both Kaka and Tui seem to be doing very well and to our knowledge there are presently no ‘cat control’ measures in place at this stage in Wellington. This suggests cats are not an issue for Kaka and Tui. As to Tieke, Titipounamu and Hihi, we’ll have to wait and see how they do.

    Conservationists need to be realistic about which species can be successfully reintroduced into urban areas. The hopes of Kevin Hackwell of Forest and Bird and Mayor Justin Lester, who would both like to see Kakapo and Kiwi wandering around the town belt, are unrealistic and given the authorities have failed to enforce the no dogs on sports fields bylaw any attempts at reintroduction of flightless birds within the city are doomed to fail.