Te Korowai o Waiheke in action

August 18, 2021 2:30 pm

Our Project Support Manager Melissa Brignall-Theyer ventured across the Hauraki Gulf earlier this month (pre-lockdown) to visit Auckland’s most populated island and one with a hefty goal to eradicate stoats and rats.

Waiheke Island is home to Te Korowai o Waiheke Trust, which was established by the community to enable the mission. For the last 18 months, the project has focussed on eradicating stoats from the island and is now ramping up their mahi to include rats. In preparation for a rat eradication pilot that will be operational from May to August next year, 1633 permissions are needed from landowners and businesses in the area to host eradication tools on their property – over half of which have already been gained.

Operations Manager Monica Valdes and Monitoring Lead Markus Gronwald

Melissa visited the project to meet with the Project Team and see first-hand the varied landscape where the pilot will take place. Operations Manager Monica Valdes and Monitoring Lead Markus Gronwald showed Melissa the 850ha pilot area in the southwestern part of the Island.

The area is not without its challenges. It features tidal mangroves and mud obstructions, among other habitats, but Te Korowai o Waiheke are coming up with new and innovative ideas to tackle these.

Monica Valdes checks a trap in the Pilot area

The key to any eradication plan is the involvement of not only the community and landowners but also ensuring everyone in the field is fully trained in data collection and trap maintenance. Field Delivery Manager Frank Lepera leads the stoat eradication team with quality control at the forefront. Melissa met with Frank who showed her the latest technology the team are using to get the job done, including a state-of-the-art mobile phone app developed by the project.

Field Delivery Manager Frank Lepera shows Melissa the new mobile phone app developed by the Te Korowai Project Team

All data from trap activity is entered into the app, so that everyone can see what’s happening with traps at any point in time, from anywhere. Technology like this is a real game-changer for any project when it comes to trying to get the last predator.

It was a very informative day on the island to see how the project is responding to the specific needs of the landscape and the community, and we would like to give a huge ‘ngā mihi’ to Te Korowai o Waiheke for hosting Melissa for the day.

We are really excited to see Waiheke Island moving ever closer to becoming the world’s first predator-free urban island.

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