Article courtesy of  LUCY COOPER, Reporter. Wairarapa Times Age 7th December 2023

“Katie Abbott, Communications Coordinator at Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance [WaiP2K] is “confident a Predator Free group in Greytown is not far away” after a well-attended community meeting to discuss the idea was held this week. 

Over 20 people met at Studio 73 on Greytown’s Main Street to learn more about the predator-free movement in Wairarapa and share ideas about how a group in Greytown might be established. 

The meeting, facilitated by WaiP2K, was attended by retired farmers, members of South Wairarapa Rotary’s environment committee, ecologists, students, school teachers and Friends of O’Connor’s Bush and Papawai Stream. 

“There was a lot of skills and enthusiasm in the room”, Abbott said, “And lots of people with contacts in the community – schools, community groups, and the Mens Shed– to support and grow the group.”

Predator Free NZ is a national movement committed to eradicating rats, mustelids and possums to make Aotearoa predator-free by 2050.

There are predator-free projects across the motu, including in Featherston, Masterton, Martinborough and Carterton.

“There is a gap in Greytown”, Rotarian Anne Atkinson told the meeting. “Other towns have a predator-free group.”

Several attendees are already involved in trapping possums and rats on their property and are keen to increase their skills to eradicate more of the “wildlife we don’t want.”

Others, like local residents Nigel and Rachel Clifford, who live on Papawai Road are “motivated to start trapping” as they have started to lose eggs from their flock of hens and have seen “a weasal or ferret or stoat” by Papawai Stream on several occasions. 

“Born, bred and returned” Greytown resident Barabara Thompson, whose grandfather helped set up O’Connor’s Bush, wants to “get rid of the rats” and make the town “more friendly for birds.”

One of the youngest people at the meeting, Octavian, who will start college next year, reflected that his generation is growing up in a New Zealand that “isn’t predator-free”, and wanted to achieve the 2050 goal so his “kids could experience more native wildlife.”

Esther Dijkstra, WaiP2K general manager, said support from WaiP2K to establish the group was available and indicated that funding may be available in the future for a coordinator to “do the admin, enthuse and support” the group. 

Niki Jones, coordinator of Predator Free Masterton, said this was “a really exciting time” for the movement in the region and welcomed Greytown’s aspiration to start its own group. 

“There is lots of support for people to step up and take care of their own backyard or local reserve,” he said.

Abbott is “very pleased with the turnout. We’ve got a groundswell of support to get Predator Free Greytown off the ground.”

An initial trapping workshop for the public will be held in February 2024.

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