Stewart island robin / toutouwai. Photo - DOC

Fran Mikulicic - Southland District Council

I’m the Group Manager Democracy and Community at Southland District Council. My role at SDC is to lead and empower my teams who support communication, engagement, democratic processes, community, strategy, policy making, customer service, libraries, and area offices.

My responsibilities also include museums, emergency management and iwi partnerships. I am lucky to be involved in various environmental projects, including the predator free work on Rakiura (Stewart Island).  

I enjoy working with the Predator Free Rakiura team and all the other groups who are doing a fantastic job of raising awareness and enhancing the environment on the island. It is a diverse team who collectively bring a wide and varying set of perspectives together, respectfully, to courageously aim to one day have Rakiura predator free.   

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the critically endangered kākāpō (a large, flightless and nocturnal parrot found only in New Zealand) could finally come back to RakiuraBeing predator free would also allow other birds and invertebrates to thrive on the island.

The last known kākāpō population was on Rakiura, before it was moved to predator-free island havens to save the birds from extinction (through predation). This relocation started about 50 years ago and was finally completed around 30 years ago. I’m sure the kākāpō would love to return to their Rakiura home.  

That is why this project is so special to me and why many volunteer hours are spent on this wonderful project. The spin off for tourism and enhanced social and cultural wellbeing will be the icing on the top. Only together can we achieve this awesome goal. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui (be strong, be brave, be steadfast). 

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