Fletcher Tabuteau, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development
Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation
The West Coast forests of Mount Te Kinga at Kotuku Whakaoho/Lake Brunner are the latest predator free project to receive Government funding, announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.
“This is a legacy project designed to completely remove possums from the mixed podocarp forests of 3,700 hectare Mt Te Kinga, and protect them from reinvasion, as part of coordinated predator control across the wider Lake Brunner basin. This will encourage healthy forest and enable special native plants and wildlife to flourish,” Eugenie Sage said.
The Predator Free Lake Brunner project will see a total investment of $15.7 million including $4.4 million from Predator Free 2050 Ltd thanks to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and significant in-kind contributions from the West Coast Regional Council, and community groups such as the Lake Brunner Community Catchment Care Group who have been pivotal in the development of the project.
Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau said it is pleasing to see the $19.5 million of Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) funding announced for Predator Free 2050 Limited in February 2019, to expand predator control in regional New Zealand and reduce the need for repeated 1080 use, is being put towards this transformational project.
“This project will not only offer benefits for conservation and provide much needed progress towards a predator free future for New Zealand, but also provide great prospects for local employment and the long-term economic future of the West Coast district,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.
Eugenie Sage said the project would give a much needed helping hand for the area’s threatened birds such as roroa/great spotted kiwi, kea, kaka, whio, fernbird, bittern, black billed gulls, kakariki/ parakeet, rifleman and brown creeper.
“While this project is funded with $4.4 million from a $19.5 million Provincial Growth Fund investment in Predator Free 2050 Ltd, more recently Budget 2020 has provided significant funding to supercharge Predator Free 2050 projects across Aotearoa as part of the $1.1 billion nature based jobs package,” said Eugenie Sage.
“I want to acknowledge the involvement of Ngāti Waewae. I understand Ngāti Waewae refer to the area around Te Kinga and the lake as Rerenga ki taonga o nga manu ki Kotuku Moana, ‘the refuge of treasured birds belonging to Kotuku Whakaoho/Lake Brunner’. Its original name highlights the potential of this project to restore the dawn chorus in an area that is known for its rich birdlife.
“I also want to acknowledge the contribution of the West Coast Regional Council. I hope the project continues to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration, with councils working alongside the Treaty partner, community groups, and the Department of Conservation to tackle pests.
“The Te Kinga/Lake Brunner project is another example of Predator Free 2050 efforts ramping up around Aotearoa. Central government is supporting the efforts of councils and community groups to give nature a helping hand.
“Predator Free Te Kinga and Lake Brunner will also directly create around 12 new jobs, enabling conservation trainees from Greymouth Polytechnic to work alongside predator control contractors, farmers and community volunteers and get practical experience in the field.
“When possums are gone, the Te Kinga area will be a special sanctuary for wildlife which can be enjoyed by visitors to Moana and Lake Brunner and those who stop on the TranzAlpine train journey. It can help draw New Zealanders and international visitors to the district,” said Eugenie Sage.
Funding and technical advice for the ambitious five-year project will be managed through government-owned Predator Free 2050 Limited.
Notes to editors:
Attached is a parallel release from West Coast Regional Council and Predator Free 2050 Ltd.
Photos and footage from the event will be available on request.
The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage is making the announcement on the shores of Lake Brunner on Friday alongside locals.
Where: Lake Brunner lakefront - Centennial Drive Iveagh Bay, Lake Brunner
When: 12.45pm Friday 29 May
Eugenie Sage – Minister of Conservation
Francois Tumahai – Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae
Ed Chignell – Predator Free 2050 Ltd Chief Executive
Allan Birchfield – West Coast Regional Council Chair
Tania Gibson – Grey District Mayor
Katie Milne – Federated Farmers Chair/Predator Free 2050 Board Member
Rosalie Shaffrey – Lake Brunner Catchment Care Group Chair
Renee Rooney – Development West Coast Chair
Predator Free Lake Brunner is the seventh large landscape project to be co-funded by the government through Predator Free 2050 Limited.
For more information about Predator Free 2050 Limited, and currently funded projects see www.pf2050.co.nz.
Pioneering naturalist W.W. Smith said in 1888, “no more interesting or profitable district could be visited by the botanist or ornithologist in New Zealand than around the shores of Lake Brunner.” He recounted “considerable numbers” of kiwi, “flocks” of mohua/yellowheads and saddlebacks and an “abundance” of parakeets. But he also recognised the increasingly rare sightings of the “remarkable” kākāpō, the “jubilant” New Zealand thrush (piopio) and the “beautiful” yellow wattled crow (South Island kōkako) and worried what the arrival of the railway and further settlement would bring.
The area retains many threatened or endangered species including kea, kākā, whio, fernbird, bittern, black billed gulls, kākāriki, rifleman, brown creeper and roroa/ little spotted kiwi, which will benefit from predator freedom.
The project has had extensive advice from Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) who are developing innovative methods of predator control that uses a mix of trapping and monitoring along with initial aerial control to virtually eliminate pests before moving to maintaining a barrier to keep them out rather than having to do regular aerial control.