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Rat attack

Little Bay Watch is one of the many communities in the Coromandel Peninsula protecting the native wildlife in their patch from predators.


Image - Ally Davey, landownerWe had a guy whose roof fell in because it was so infested with rats. Another neighbour brought some land behind that property and he decided he wanted to bring birdsong to his land, and eventually kiwi.

I think in the first month we pulled out about 130 rats from his property. From seeing that, we got passionate about making a difference in our backyards. Our backyard hub started up. We have got about 100 landowners engaged.

In Little Bay, we had only 10 bait stations. We said let’s have a go at this. We got funding from the Kiwibank Predator Free Communities programme and bought a load of traps. In 138 days we have had 327 kills, including hedgehogs, mice, possums, rats and stoats.

All of a sudden, in the morning, you just hear the birds going crazy here. I was amazed at how quickly you could see the results. The birds come flocking.

All you can see now is little berries and seeds on the ground. The tūī are going crazy, the kererū are whacking you in the head. Without the rats, there is no competition for food.

We have kaka flying over from Habitat Tuateawa, another backyard programme to the south. It’s amazing, you will see 17-18 kaka come over in groups and that’s just because of the work those guys have done.


Images - native birdsIt’s about linking all those little groups together. Together we can do it, but one person can’t do it. Once we get all these links you really start to see the results.

We need to target little pockets of land, they will join up eventually. We just need to get people to do their bit. We have to do it on a big scale but we can do something in our own backyards and that is the cool thing.

Small scale funding initiatives like that of Kiwibank and Waikato Regional Council help empower passionate community groups and individuals to be able to start to make changes. I’d encourage anyone to apply, and encourage more of these grants. The more we can encourage these, the more positive change we’ll see.

When I lived overseas, I got into turtles in Cypress. Why am I so excited about turtles on the other side of the world? I should be worried about my own backyard. In New Zealand we are so lucky to get to live in an environment like this. We need to get off our butts and do something about it.

Pest control is for life. It’s not something you can do for two weeks of the year and take a holiday from. This is the future, this is our life.

People are so stressed out these days. It’s nice to see them getting back to nature and relaxed in nature.

In the old days that’s what we did – collected food and foraged. Sometimes we need to disconnect. We need to disconnect to do good.