A $2m funding boost aims to crack down on predators sprawling across a 640,000ha catchment area in the Kaipara Harbour, with hapū taking the lead in the pest control efforts.
Crown-owned charitable company Predator Free 2050 Ltd is rolling out a total of $6m to three pest control projects across the country as part of the Jobs for Nature scheme, with Kaipara receiving an initial $2m of about $30m required.
The project is bringing agencies, hapū and community groups together and will be carried out by Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust through their environmental arm Environs Holdings Ltd.
Thirty-six new jobs will be created.
Environs manager Fiona Kemp says the project is in a scoping phase and will be identifying a feasible approach to the implementation in its first instance.
Part of this was co-ordinating pest control work that is already being carried out by the community and other groups.
"We are looking at a better co-ordinated approach for areas we need to protect. As part of this, we need to connect to all community groups and see what is fit for purpose," Kemp said.
The first stage will focus on the key peninsulas around the Kaipara Harbour, a 105,000 ha area, and the remainder of the catchment (535,000ha) will follow in other stages.
That area extends south of Whangārei to Helensville and much of the west coast in between.
The pest control partnership between Kaipara Harbour Management Group, Ngā Maunga Whakahii, Te Uri o Hau, Te Roroa, Auckland Council, Northland Regional Council and the Department of Conservation will target rats, possums, stoats and feral pigs.
Kemp said the project was an exciting opportunity and could provide a buffer zone for the rest of Te Tai Tokerau.
The Kaipara Moana is the largest estuarine water body in New Zealand. It is of global ecological and biological significance and of profound importance to Māori and recreational users.
The Kaipara is a migratory bird habitat, with rare species using the harbour for feeding in summer before returning to the northern hemisphere to breed, such as the bar-tailed godwit.
Terrestrial biodiversity includes fairy tern, banded rail, fernbird and kiwi, and the wetland areas provide feeding and roosting grounds for migratory waders.
The coastal dunes and dune lakes along the western coast provide habitat for banded rail, dotterel and other species.
Of the $30m required for the project, Predator Free 2050 Ltd will be providing about a third of the costs. The remainder will have to be raised through other channels.
The Kaipara project has interdependencies with the $200m Kaipara remediation efforts – an initiative involving iwi, hapū, government and landowners to restore the whole catchment.
Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf and Farewell Spit/Wharariki also received funding by Jobs for Nature.