Looking North from the summit of Table Hill. Whenua Hou Ruggedy Range Hananui Rakeahua South West Arm of Paterson Inlet visible left to right. Photo Jake Osborne CC BY NC SA 2.0

The Challenge

Introduced predators are weakening our nature haven. Three species of rats, feral cats, possums and hedgehogs are major threats to our native plants and animals. A predator-free Rakiura / Stewart Island would remove these predators, helping the recovery of our forests and wetlands.

The Benefits

Some benefits of a Predator Free Rakiura:

  • A haven for our taonga, including Stewart Island kiwi / Rakiura tokoeka, kākā, parakeet / kākāriki, penguins, geckos and bats
  • Healthier forests, coasts and rivers
  • A place for people to experience New Zealand’s nature as it used to be
  • Meaningful employment and new, quality conservation tourism
  • Helping create a thriving community and nature together
  • A major step towards a Predator Free New Zealand
  • The opportunity to return the kākāpō to its home once again
  • Potential to become a large-scale haven to other species in need of a safe home, such as takahē
  • A healthier Rakiura is the greatest legacy to leave for our children 

Together we are restoring our natural haven - Rakiura, mauri ora

The Project
  • Kākāpō Stella-2-B-19. Photo - Jake Osborne CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    See more about the project

Why pursue a Predator Free Rakiura?

We have so much to protect

Community, visitors and wildlife are intertwined on Rakiura with Stewart Island kiwi / Rakiura tokoeka, kākā, penguins, parakeet / kākāriki and pigeon / kereru in Halfmoon Bay township, a National Park surrounded by a pristine coastline and over 90 islands, full of wildlife, that deserve to be protected.

Did you know?

Rakiura is home to around 380 residents and welcomes over 45,000 visitors each year.

Biodiversity from a MĀori Perspective

Māori have a holistic view of biodiversity and believe that all living and non-living things are linked and possess the spiritual qualities of tapu, mauri, mana, and wairua. Therefore, as tangata whenua, Māori are the kaitiaki or guardians of our precious ecosystems and the mana of the tangata whenua is directly related to the wellbeing of the ecosystem within their rohe or region. Valuing this perspective is essential to creating a bicultural approach to biodiversity management on Rakiura.  

Papatūānuku (Earth mother), Ranginui (sky father) and their offspring are in serious trouble, and we urgently need to do a better job of looking after them. The state of nature is a legacy we leave for future generations.

Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020.
We are already on the journey

Without pigs, rabbits, stoats, goats and ferrets, we are perfectly placed to make a real impact if the remaining predators are removed. Many people on and around Rakiura are doing their bit to control predators and keep their homes, vehicles and vessels rat-free.  

The Predators

An incredible amount of work towards a predator-free Rakiura has already been achieved by iwi, the community and various organisations.


Now is the time to stop the decline

Rakiura is a nature hotspot and home to many species either threatened or found nowhere else. Let us protect our forests and wildlife and help restore the mauri of the island. Find out what eradication means.

We have so much potential

Much of Rakiura's unique habitat and wildlife remains undeveloped, and with many predators already absent,  protection is not only possible, it can be done at a scale for an inhabited island that has not been done before. Let’s bring home the kākāpō!

An investment for our future

We want a healthy Rakiura for our visitors and families forever. We also want sustained and meaningful employment for our community, and to maintain our unique lifestyle within stunning natural landscapes.

Local and Global implications

The scale and complexity of this project means we would learn new techniques and innovations that could be applied not only in New Zealand towards Predator Free New Zealand but also for restoration projects around the world.

Predator free aspirations

We asked students at Rakiura’s Halfmoon Bay School to share their ideas of what 2050 might be like if predators are removed from Rakiura.

Read their stories

Learn more
  • Hiking the Abel Tasman Coastal Track New Zealand Photo Eli Duke CC BY SA 2.0

    More about what's being done

  • Norway rat Rakiura. Photo Jake Osborne CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    More about the predators

Eradication vs. Control

This project centres on the eradication of predators from Rakiura – not the control of predator numbers. Even though both sometimes use the same tools, eradication permanently removes all identified pest species with ongoing surveillance and management of reinvasion risks. 

Control means:

  • Ongoing, never-ending management of predator populations to reduce their harm, meaning more predators being killed over time plus more cost than a one-off eradication project. Plus, because it is ongoing, controls can mean that individuals who survive the control methods are able to pass on genes or learned behaviours, so we end up needing to invent new tools or methods to control predators that are no longer vulnerable to our old methods. 
  • Cost often limits the size of the area that can be covered, reducing the benefits while increasing the environmental effects due to the tools being used. For example, the control programme on Rakiura is only protecting 10% of the island.

Eradication means:

  • Permanently removing every individual of a target species in one large-scale effort from a defined area that is surrounded by some type of barrier that prevents reinvasion to ensure predators are not able to return to the island. This also means we need to put systems in place to prevent predators leaving the mainland, have good, continued surveillance to detect any that slip through, and can respond rapidly to wipe the invaders out.
  • The eradication process requires proper planning to ensure we get every single target predator. Every step is motivated by the need to minimise the risk of leaving individuals behind – to avoid having to repeat effort in the future. This means a feasibility study is the first step in understand the scale, logistics, infrastructure, and research available to tap into before an eradication plan can be carefully designed, tested, planned and implemented.
  • Design, trials, testing, and planning on Rakiura will take approximately 2-5 years. The Predator Free Rakiura project will take an ‘applied planning’ approach which identifies uncertainties and determines agreed solutions. Using an applied process follows eradication best practice. This will help provide certainty and inform the delivery of the one large scale eradication effort.


Image source: Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII)

What will eradication mean for Rakiura?

Without eradication many of the taonga native species, flora and fauna that remain on the Island will face a biodiversity crisis. Major declines in indigenous species will continue  until they only exist on offshore islands or at sites with ongoing intensive pest control.

With eradication not only will these declines be reversed, but other species could move back home to Rakiura, helping to secure them from extinction. It’s not possible to achieve this across the whole of the Island by only using ‘control’ techniques.

The eradication process is a long game. A predator eradication project of this complexity, on an inhabited island of this scale, has never been attempted before. So far, the largest eradication project carried out has been on an area measuring 12,000 hectares – but this will shift to 160,000 hectares if Predator Free Rakiura is successful. All the work we have done to date has essentially been a desktop exercise, so testing the ideas in the field with the community will be an important step of the process.

Trials and scientific innovations

Modern predator eradication and control tools are constantly evolving. Check out the new technology and methods being trialled and developed here.

Local and Global Eradication Projects

Take a look at some examples of local and global island eradication projects here.

Removing predators at this scale won’t be easy but it will be worth it!

More Information
  • PFNZ Trust

    Learn more about the big dream