A tight-knit Rotorua anti-1080 group is confident they can provide the Department of Conservation (DoC) an alternative pest eradication method without the use of 1080 poison.

This is especially the case now an opportunity to do so has been provided by DoC, Ngāti Whakaue, the Mokaihaha Kokako Trust and Progress Mamaku.

The OCBs (Outcast Bush Slayers) was formed when its five members grew weary of the mudslinging and protest being used by 1080 detractors.

OCBs spokesman and life-long trapper Judge Dredge said, instead of screaming, the group committed to a challenge issued by DoC and the Government.

Advertisement

"1080 protesters were told to come up with an alternative so that's what we want to highlight," Dredge said.

"We fully believe, if trapped properly, poison is not necessary for pest eradication.

"About seven months ago we approached Ngāti Whakaue and asked for their support to prove there is another way.

"They were keen to support us but also wanted DoC to be on board."

With a lot of work done behind the scenes in the interim, the OCBs were told at a meeting earlier this week, they would be "given" an 800h block on a five-year contract to prove trapping could be as successful as poison in pest eradication.

Terry 'Judge' Dredge. Photo / Katee Shanks
Terry 'Judge' Dredge. Photo / Katee Shanks

Dredge said he was "gobsmacked" when told his group had the go-ahead.

"I really didn't think it would happen, even though we did everything that was asked of us, I was sure we were going to be told no.

"What made it even better is the DoC ranger we have been working with said if the trial was successful, they would look at using it around the rest of the country."

Advertisement

The 800h block is adjacent to another 800h block that is baited with feratox (cyanide) and pindone which will be used as a comparison.

"We've got five years to make this work."

Dredge said trapping as an alternative had been attempted before but the iwi involved had "run out of manpower".

"I am 100 per cent sure we will make this work. Both Josh [another OCBs member] and I have been trapping all our lives and we are both connected to every trapping body there is in this country. Also, 800ha is not a big block, we do 7000ha blocks on our own.

"If we have to change our whole lives to get this done we will, it's that important to us and to New Zealand."

As part of the agreement, Dredge and his fellow trappers will teach iwi members to trap the block and will also go into kura to teach youngsters about protecting the whenua without poison.

Advertisement

DoC partnership manager Margaret Metcalf said it was great to be talking constructively and collaboratively with the OCBs and iwi.

"We are looking forward to working together and devising a plan," Metcalf said.

"We really do want this to succeed."

She said DoC had always maintained if there was an alternative to 1080, it would be used.

"We have to know firstly, that what is being suggested will work and secondly, it is sustainable. But everyone is willing to do what it takes to help ensure the work is successful."

Joe Edwards, from Ngāti Te Ngākau and Ngāti Tura, said the OCBs had approached himself and John Newton seven months ago and they had been welcomed in.

Advertisement

"We are mana whenua for the land from Ngongotaha to Mamaku but have a close relationship with Ngāti Whakaue," Edwards said.

"We opened the doors for the korero and things have blossomed.

"It's almost like we've been able to broker a peace deal between DoC and the anti-1080 group."

Edwards said the iwi were about solutions as opposed to listening to moans and groans.

"These people came in and told us what they wanted to do and, if our own people can be taught to trap, especially in the Mokaihaha block, then that's awesome.

"For years we've been hearing trapping is not as successful, now it's time to find out whether that's the truth or not."

Advertisement