November 2023 update: the report below informs our Predator Free Wairarapa project.

Community-led large landscape-scale environmental restoration is one of WaiP2K’s aims. An outcome of our 2021 hui is the landscape-wide pest-animal control stocktake that has recently been created. The report was presented at our 2022 hui by Philippa Crisp. It details the current situation for pest animals and biodiversity in our area and proposes ways of achieving and monitoring.

Philippa Crisp
Philippa Crisp has over 25 years of experience in terrestrial ecology having worked for both the Department of Conservation and the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) over that time. At GWRC she oversaw the ecological health programme for the council’s 40,000ha of indigenous ecosystems in its parks and forests. In more recent years, she led an Environmental Science team that provided scientific data and advice in relation to the region’s land, climate and biodiversity. She has established regional monitoring programmes for terrestrial and wetland ecology and published a number of conservation planning reports.

Executive Summary

Multiple pest animal species are present across the Wairarapa landscape and are impacting indigenous ecosystems, as well as farming and forestry economies.

Multiple pest animal control projects are occurring within the region, which are all contributing to lowering pest numbers, but consideration needs to be given to effective long term sustainable approaches based on pest type, as well as the impact on and the state of threatened ecosystems and species.

Different approaches are proposed for different pest species.

    • A regional possum control programme run by the agencies (Greater Wellington Regional Council (GW) and the Department of Conservation (DOC)) would provide the best approach for this pest. It is recommended that the Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance (Wai P2K) should advocate for a regional possum programme to be funded in the coming GWRC Long Term Plan, while DOC should ensure that lands, they manage receive pest animal control in a complementary fashion.
    • DOC have received funding for a national project to control deer and goats on the DOC estate in the recent budget. Wai P2K should promptly advocate for the protection of the Conservation estate within the Wairarapa region to be funded in a sustainable manner.
    • An investigation of ways to encourage neighbouring farmers to allow contract and/or concession hunters to lower feral deer numbers to improve the health of the deer herds, as well as lower the damaging impacts of these animals on the farms and in the forest ecosystems, should be initiated.
    • Where goats are present in large numbers, education should be provided to neighbouring landowners on the impact of these pest animals and control methods be encouraged and implemented (in plantation forests, as well as DOC land and farmland).
    • Other pest animals, such as mustelids, cats, hedgehogs, rabbits and rats, can be controlled on a localized basis, with large-scale projects being considered in terms of specific species/ecosystems to protect.
    • Surveillance is required to detect emerging pests, like wallabies, before they become established.

Four Eco Zones within the Wairarapa region are proposed. Each zone will have a focus that will maximize the biodiversity gains that can be made through pest animal control. These can be built upon existing activities or proposals that have been undertaken or put forward by agencies, landowners, and volunteers.

    • Northern Wairarapa Eco Zone: Continued advocacy for the funding of pest control in and around Pūkaha is vital. Goat and deer control is a high priority in many of the remnants across the landscape, while Rewanui Trust Reserve is an important site for ongoing predator control activities.
    • Central Wairarapa Eco Zone: A high proportion of the population of river nesting birds including the nationally threatened pohowera (banded dotterel) are present along 20km of river length between the Waingawa confluence and Gladstone Bridge. Some trapping of mustelids, hedgehogs and cats is occurring to benefit the nesting success of these birds, but the trap network needs to be expanded. Also, within this Eco Zone is the Ponatahi Lizard Sanctuary. A mechanism to continue to protect lizards within this fenced sanctuary needs to be found, as well as funding to survey and monitor the species present.
    • Eastern Wairarapa Eco Zone: Halting the retraction of the range of tītipounamu should be a focus in this Eco Zone. This can be achieved by agencies funding 1080 possum control in the area on an ongoing basis. Deer numbers need to be lowered to protect the habitat and farmland. Goat control and pest control in Rewa Bush is also a high priority in this Eco Zone, as is Rocky Hills Sanctuary. Enhancement of the network protecting the important.
    • Southern Wairarapa Eco Zone: Protecting the nationally critical matuku-hūrepo (bittern) at Wairarapa Moana is a high priority. Areas on the lake margin can be enhanced by strategic trapping of mustelids and cats on farmland. The protection of tītīpounamu habitat in the Aorangi Forest Park is also an important focus, which will require advocacy to the agencies to continue 1080 operations. Volunteer efforts underway are important.

Returning species that have been lost to the region, such as whio or pāteke, would also provide for focused conservation effort around iconic species.

Predator Free 2050 is funding research projects to provide new tools that may improve pest control effectiveness over time. An awareness of the latest pest animal control techniques and local trials of new inventions is encouraged.

An organisation or group that can provide oversight of pest control contracts in terms of quality and professionalism is needed.

Urban communities could be encouraged to focus on specific projects, such as a lizard survey or to aid in regional volunteer effort. Sites that are not far from townships, such as Rocky Hills forest or Matarawa Conservation Area would benefit from predator control.

Education programmes about different pests, such as cats and hedgehogs should be developed

Training should be given to volunteers to enable them to complete pest control in the most effective way. Working in partnership with GWRC where volunteers and staff alternate trap checking should be considered.

Local councils should be encouraged to consider a combined cat management strategy.

Data collation using Trap.NZ is key to the maintenance of records for the outputs of pest control operations. Ongoing agency monitoring to determine outcomes is beneficial. Bird monitoring in Pūkaha and Rewa Reserve will complement any operations. Training volunteers to undertake this monitoring will be useful.

Funding of pest animal control will continue to be a challenge but having good information about what the outcomes are and how those outcomes can be achieved provides certainty to funders.

Considering pest animal control from a landscape view provides a mechanism for collaborative and synergistic actions that will help to prevent reinvasion and focus effort. Recommendations for next steps are included at the end of this report.

See the full Wairarapa landscape-wide pest animal stocktake in PDF format.