Eradicating predators from Kawau Island

Kawau Island is a special place with many natural and cultural values. Most of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf are now pest free and Kawau lies close to several of them as well as Tawharanui open sanctuary, where invasive mammals have been eradicated.

Kawau has an extensive canopy and is a large size with diverse habitats. It has the potential to sustain species that require significant space, and the island already supports kiwi, weka and pāteke. The proximity to other pest‐free islands and sanctuaries would allow for the natural re‐introductions of many bird species. Kākā are steadily re‐establishing on the island and there have been anecdotal sightings of bellbirds and kākāriki in the northern end of the island. The ecological values of the island will be far more robust in the absence of invasive species.

The island is dominated by indigenous vegetation, but forest quality and bird abundance has been eroding due to predation. This eradication project is a crucial trigger to reverse the decline. The project aims to eradicate rats, stoats, possums and wallabies from the island and restore the native biodiversity and ecosystem.

The project is currently in the feasibility phase and a report assessing the technical feasibility and social acceptance of eradicating target species was released in August 2023. Download and review the full report and a summary of key findings here.

Q and A with the project, March 2024

What is the project most proud of?
Developing an enduring partnership approach that has progressed from project conceptualisation, through to feasibility analysis and operational planning. This collaboration has been achieved by community advocates, Ngāti Manuhiri, Department of Conservation and Auckland Council. It has enabled effective communication channels and continuity of engagement, ensuring the project team can respond to differing levels of community readiness and adapt timelines and approach.

What stage is the project at?
Operational planning to prepare for phase one of the Kawau Island multi-species
eradication programme. This will focus on the removal of browsers (wallabies and possums) from Kawau Island.

What’s next?
The operational delivery of phase one. This will begin with securing private property agreements, contract of services, site preparation and team recruitment.

What tools have been most useful for your project?
At this early stage in the project, our community database is the most important tool for maintaining ongoing engagement.

PF2050Ltd investment $1.3 million (Jobs for Nature funding)
Total project investment $6.5 million
Funding commitment 5 years
Project lead Auckland Council
Māori partners Ngāti Manuhiri
Collaborators The Pohutukawa Trust, the Department of Conservation and other partners.
Ambition The project will work to eradicate possums, rats and mustelids. Auckland Council will also concurrently eradicate wallabies, consistent with the Auckland Regional Pest Management Plan 2020-2030
Design The project is currently in the feasibility assessment stage.