Wellington Scoop

Eradicating rats and stoats from Miramar – start of predator-free capital project

free of preds

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council (WCC), the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and the Next Foundation today announced a joint collaboration to make Wellington the first Predator Free capital city in the world.

The ambitious project aligns with the recently announced Government mission to make New Zealand predator free by 2050. Without introduced predators, birds, lizards, geckos and other native fauna will be able to grow and thrive in Wellington, bringing significant environmental, social and economic benefits.

The Wellington City Council, the Regional Council and the Next Foundation will jointly fund a Project Director to get the project underway.

Initially the focus will be on developing a plan to eradicate rats and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula, along with a strategy for extending this throughout Wellington City.

Management of cats and dogs is not included in the scope of the project but the need for Wellington residents to be responsible pet owners is a matter of ongoing interest to the Councils. Engaging with the community will form a large part of the project and lessons learnt in Crofton Downs and other areas will inform the project design and implementation. Expert advice will guide the development of the plan and strategy.

Miramar Peninsula is geographically well positioned to attempt a rat and stoat eradication. Possums were declared eradicated from Miramar Peninsula in 2006 by the Regional Council with support from the City Council and the area has not been re-infested. The City Council has already undertaken management of introduced predators of native animals across all its reserves, in partnership with the Regional Council. Much work is done voluntarily by community groups.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said Wellington was proud to be leading the way to a predator-free New Zealand.

“Wellington’s existing natural capital makes a predator-free city possible. We have a strong foundation with over 120 volunteer restoration projects working in our network of reserves along with significant Council investment. This next step will enable the project partners to work with local communities to build the momentum that will be critical in sustaining the project over the long term. We will also be seeking central government investment to ensure eradication is successful”.

The initiative follows the success of neighbourhood trapping communities already established in Wellington – in particular Crofton Downs Predator Free Community spearheaded by local resident Kelvin Hastie.

Next Foundation chairman Chris Liddell announced today it has engaged Kelvin as the NEXT Predator Free Community Champion to work with the Predator Free Wellington partners on this exciting mission. Kelvin will ultimately support other communities in the wider vision of making New Zealand predator free by 2050.

“We are delighted to have Kelvin on board and to support Wellington in this bold vision,” said Liddell. “We are looking forward to Wellington being famous for not only the Beehive – but birdsong”.

Councillor Chris Laidlaw, Regional Council Chair, said: “We’re excited by the prospect of harnessing our collective skills and resources to bring the birds back to Wellington and restore the region’s biodiversity. Together we can more effectively achieve the Predator Free goal, working community by community, to provide a lasting benefit for future generations.”

GWRC currently undertakes possum and predator control in most of rural Wellington and within identified Key Native Ecosystems.

Kelvin Hastie describes predator-free communities


  1. Ian Apperley, 26. September 2016, 10:08

    Wouldn’t be great if they actually got the residents involved in this. Here’s hoping. Most of the peninsula suffers from rats, especially on the tail of winter. If we could all somehow chip in, perhaps by putting traps on our properties, the process would be quick.

  2. CC, 26. September 2016, 10:56

    Ian, I think you’ll find that most of the budget will be swallowed up with professional services and administration costs. As with almost all of Wellington’s environmental projects, the grunt work will no doubt be done at no cost by volunteers who will receive little recognition. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves so that the CEOs, the next Mayor and the incoming GWRC Chairperson can claim the credit for your efforts.

  3. Guy M, 26. September 2016, 13:36

    Ian, from what I understand, in the areas already being aimed at being predator-free, they are doing just that, i.e. you can sign up, and get a trap for your own property. Completely reliant on the public at large.

  4. Trevor, 26. September 2016, 15:03

    Good luck with that. One pair of rats can produce 15,000 offspring a year. Wherever humans live, rats live also. They are an entirely different proposition from possums. Will the Council construct a moat through the Peninsula? Rats can swim also. Control, possibly, but eradicate – you’re dreaming. This campaign has all the hallmarks of an hysterical medieval crusade.

  5. Andy Mellon, 26. September 2016, 20:50

    @Trevor. There was a very interesting article on the Grauniad last week about a company in the US who has patented a poison that doesn’t kill, doesn’t harm the rat, but massively reduces breeding success with the aim of reducing that reproductive success to make rat control much more efficient.

    Article linked here: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/20/man-v-rat-war-could-the-long-war-soon-be-over

  6. Graeme Sawyer, 26. September 2016, 20:52

    This is already happening: “Along with DOC, Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington, the Morgan Foundation has been working to provide Halo Households with cheap and safe predator traps” – see “Project Halo” website.
    Other residents’ groups (most notably one in Crofton Downs) are proceeding with such initiatives independently also.
    I realised some years ago that WCC’s “northern reserve management plan” (which outlines plans to “protect and enhance” WCC reserves in Northern Wellington, where I live) was something of a joke, as it outlined plans & objectives for pest control with no real action plan & no funding to achieve them.
    It will always come down to motivated local communities to make these things happen – and perhaps that’s the best way, as people need to be involved and not rely on “the council’ to do it all for them (as councils are prone to cut these more essential budgets periodically to “invest” the money in colossal wasteage of various types….).

  7. Mike Mellor, 26. September 2016, 21:06

    I got a rat trap through Backyard Sanctuaries, and after an initial burst of trapping I haven’t caught one for several weeks. So it’s worked for me, and hence for my immediate neighbourhood. If enough people put and keep traps on their sections, problem solved.

  8. Peter, 26. September 2016, 22:30

    Mike – good stuff on your part but probably a more sophisticated community programme and evaluation is necessary. Credit must also be given to the Crofton Downs volunteers, the Regional Council who have done a fabulous job in some area with their operations then providing immediate responses if notified of opossum sightings until responsibility was handed over to WCC. Polehill Gully has also had the benefit of a very sophisticated local project with spectacular results and individuals and groups elsewhere in the city have done great work without much recognition. Hopefully the Miramar Peninsular initiative will have success but there are murmurings about ‘big noters’ who are putting the publicity icing on the cake before the baking has been done.

  9. fred, 27. September 2016, 12:00

    There are lots of rats in the Tawa and Johnsonville areas. How are we going to keep them out of the rest of the city? And they swim. How can we stop them swimming from the city over to Miramar?

  10. Paul Estoc, 27. September 2016, 13:44

    Good luck with that – rats and stoats are fine, but the biggest predator in NZ is the humble moggy. Until a city wide approach to controlling cats, esp feral and wild populations, including free roaming domestics is put in place you will never have much effect just by removing 2nd tier predators

  11. Trevor Hughes, 27. September 2016, 17:45

    @Paul Estoc: not so Paul, there is no solid, peer reviewed science in the New Zealand context to support such assertions which are typically made by the cat-phobic Morgan Foundation. The greatest threat to birdlife is loss of habitat and food sources. This is primarily caused by humans. Cats are an easy scapegoat for some.

  12. Michael Gibson, 27. September 2016, 18:30

    It seems to me to be accurate to say “predator” in respect of cats and “threat” in respect of humans. All very interesting.

  13. Paul Estoc, 28. September 2016, 14:24

    @Trevor – we do not need a study in NZ – studies in Australia and the UK clearly show the impact of feral cats on wildlife. Yes habitat loss is a major threat to all native species, but if we are talking predators – then cats are no1 with a bullet. The article is not about threats to species it is about making an area “predator free” – which is not possible if you are ignoring the apex predator in an ecosystem. I’m a cat owner, my 3 are all house cats (never out at night), and even they still manage to kill their far share of skinks, wetas and small birds from time to time. The Morgan Foundation may be the most vocal of the anti-cat movement, but they do also have a valid point, albeit one they deliver and champion badly.

  14. fred, 28. September 2016, 16:02

    The Apex predator is humans Paul.

  15. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 29. September 2016, 14:43

    The environmental movement uses every option available to promote their cause. This includes individuals entasked to promote their view in online forums. The challenge to those who oppose the mass hysteria precipitated by the environmentalists is to avoid being reactive to this part of their campaigning. These folks are smart, they have an understanding of psychological energy dynamics applied on a mass scale. When one functions in reactive mode, one is subservient to them. Energy is wasted and they can proceed with directing the entire business.

    While the minds of some citizens are ensnared by pest-free mass hysteria and others are engaged in emotively defending their companion animals, what we have is a divide and rule scenario. Undoubtedly there is other business going on behind the scenes the hidden wannabe rulers of society are hoping we will not notice. It’s the standard methodology of the stage conjurer utilised on a mass scale. When one sees business terminology such as “private-public partnership” and “management strategy”, etc used in a political context, that is a sure sign of the evolution of corporate power into a dangerous political form.

    The focus on environmental action at all costs is not about genuine conservation as such. It’s a business model, albeit a thoroughly flawed one. Restoration of ‘native biodiversity’ = more tourism = more revenue, and if it takes a series of pogroms against any and all exotic species including your Feline family members then so be it. A culture that does not grasp the essential interplay between power and true moral values, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, and fails to understand that compassion and inclusiveness, not profit, is the measure of a civilization, condemns itself to death.

  16. Andrew, 29. September 2016, 17:18

    Dear Sekhmet Bast Ra, you accuse others of creating hysteria. I found this paragraph on your website.
    “How many of you are aware that Wellington’s Karori reservoir is within the sanctuary? Did you know the eco-fascists at Zealandia spiked Wellington’s water supply with the poison rotenone to kill all of the Brown Trout so they could introduce native fish? You need to know, because if you drink tap water, along with your compulsory dose of fluoride you have been drinking this other poison!”
    The reservoirs were decommissioned in the 1990s. What is the point of your statement, if not to create hysteria?

  17. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 30. September 2016, 5:35

    Hi Andrew, We’ve followed up on your statement re the decommissioning of Karori reservoir years prior to Zealandia’s usage of the piscicide rotenone. You are absolutely correct. While the intention of our rhetoric will always be open to the reader’s own interpretation, we do not intend to induce further mass hysteria. However, when one’s loved ones are being unjustly denigrated by a propaganda campaign that would surely impress Kim Jong Un himself, we have no option to but fight back. In this case we had a dud shell, it happens in war. We’ve updated the entry you have referenced on our site and posted an unreserved apology for this error on the front page which will remain there until our next update. Thank you for drawing our attention to this error.

  18. Andrew, 30. September 2016, 7:46

    That’s great, thanks for correcting the statement.