A stepping stone to a Predator Free Taitokerau

Ka puawai te ngahere

Ka rere te kūkupa e kawe ana ngā kākano mō āpōpō

Tihewa mauri ora ki te wheiao ki te ao Mārama

As the kūkupa flies carrying seeds for future generations to come

I sneeze the breath of life into the physical world of light

Predator Free Whangārei aims to protect, restore and enhance thousands of hectares of Northland’s native forests, coastal habitats and wetlands, allowing for greater protection and enhancement of threatened species of native fauna and flora.

Predator Free Whangārei is a collaborative project which aims to eliminate introduced predators in the Whangārei area and builds on decades of dedicated and successful community predator control.

The project will completely remove possums from 9,100ha of the Whangārei Heads area and utilise the narrow neck of the peninsula and numerous inlets and streams to protect from reinvasion. This peninsula has a diverse social and physical landscape – 30% of the project area is PCL, there are many pockets of villages, coastal beaches, farmlands, whenua Māori, and many passionate community conservation groups.

Over five years Predator Free Whangārei aims to:

  • Completely remove possums from the Whangārei Heads Peninsula and prevent re-establishment through the ongoing detection and removal of invading individuals.
  • Intensively control possums over 20,000 ha in an adjacent buffer zone.
  • Intensively control mustelids over 60,000 ha between Whangārei and Bream Head.
  • Intensively control rodents within priority sites.
  • Develop, implement and support an urban predator control programme to increase engagement and awareness of Whangārei Predator Free.

Q and A with the project, March 2024

What is the project most proud of?

We are extremely proud of our team who are committed and passionate. They have taken the PF2050 message to communities, iwi/hapū, schools, private properties and established conservation-based organisations – who often have little previous knowledge or prior exposure to the PF2050 kaupapa. We are on track to create thousands of invested participants, collaborators, contract holders and vocal or quiet advocates – all supporting – and in turn supported – by the continuation of the PF2050 vision in their region.

What stage is the project at?

We now have 2,100 hectares in ‘Detect and Respond’ mode. And 700 hectares are going into ‘Knockdown’ phase and some level of pre-planning is happening in most of the remaining working blocks. A local Hau Kainga group are leading their own elimination project across 300 hectares of whenua Māori, with the opportunity for this work to expand over the next year.

What’s next?

Our greatest excitement is our barrier development, scheduled in the next couple of months. This will enable us to close off our project elimination area, creating a great sense of satisfaction and let us showcase progress to our many supporters and stakeholders. It offers the opportunity to trial the use of thermal drone imaging and expanded use of a possum detection dog.

Permissions are to hand for the very significant Manaia Maunga. The work planned for mid 2024 will be an important milestone for the kaupapa.

What tools have been most useful for your project

AT220s have been fantastic in some areas of the project. Certified possum indicator dogs (detection dogs), online H&S and data capturing apps for handheld field devices, and trail camera image classifier tools have also been great for our project. Given our large number of stakeholders, having a sound communications plan has been essential to give a current, engaging narrative of our journey via social media – and also satisfies on the ground logistics such as landowner notification prior to local toxin operations, signage and even a successful ‘Report a Possum’ programme!

Launched July 10, 2020
PF2050Ltd investment $6 m
Total project investment $27 m
Funding commitment Five years
Project lead Northland Regional Council
Māori partners
Collaborators Northland Regional Council, Whangārei District Council, Kiwi Coast, Department of Conservation, community conservation groups.
Ambition Ambition 60,000 ha
Design Possum removal from 9,100 hectares around the Whangārei Heads, with buffer zones, intensive mustelid and rodent control over 60,000ha and community engagement programmes around Whangārei city.