Pests in the Bay of Islands didn't have much of a summer holiday, with hundreds of new stoat and rodent traps put to work.
Kiwi Coast's Mid North co-ordinator, Andrew Mentor, said the traps are hitting the ground at the perfect time, and would help counter the "unhappy coincidence" of Northland brown kiwi chicks hatching at the peak time for juvenile stoats dispersing from their dens.
The traps had already begun catching stoats, providing immediate increased protection to the kiwi chicks. Without intensive trapping, 95 per cent of Northland kiwi chicks born in the wild were killed by stoats before their first birthday.
Most of the traps were funded by the Northland Regional Council (NRC), via the Mid North — Bay of Islands High Value Area Pest Control funding introduced in July last year, and the council's environment fund.
The balance had been funded by the Kiwi Coast Trust, the NZ Kiwi Foundation and the Overseas Investment Office.
The community-led pest control projects that received the traps were located in Kerikeri, Waipapa, Ōpito Bay, Taranui, Tapuatahi, Haruru, Ōkaihau, Utukura Valley, Rawene and Cottle Hill/Bulls Gorge.
Mr Mentor said he had been kept busy over summer delivering the traps and demonstrating to land owners how to ensure they worked effectively and safely.
He also helped the community groups through the funding process, and worked with the NRC to help groups design their pest control plans to ensure co-ordination of effort and the maximum chance of success.
Building on the considerable community-led pest control work in the Bay of Islands, the traps had helped new community projects get up and running, boosted some existing project areas to increase trapping densities, and connected different groups' projects into continuous trapping areas, aimed at helping the survival of native wildlife such as kiwi as they roam across the region.
Mr Mentor said he had worked with NRC biosecurity officer Mike Knight and the Northern Regional Corrections Facility at Ngāwha to design and build hundreds of wooden boxes for stoat and rat traps.
"Making the trap boxes locally in Northland rather than sourcing them elsewhere has saved thousands of dollars, and allowed trap boxes to be modified to suit Northland trapper requirements, keeping curious kiwi and weka safe and hopefully catching more predators," he said.
NRC biosecurity manager — partnerships Kane McElrea said the new pest control funding would make a big difference, allowing a local community pest control working group to be established to ensure appropriate resources were allocated where needed within the Mid North High Value Pest Control area.
"The increased funding has enabled community groups in areas like the Bay of Islands to substantially increase their pest control work.
"As a result, more native forests and wildlife are now actively protected, and we should have a bumper season of kiwi chicks in 2019," he said.
The Kiwi Coast Trust and NRC began their partnership in September 2017.
"It's great to work together at a very practical level to help communities get the equipment, skills and support needed to actively care for their local areas," Mr Mentor added.
"Seeing the results on the ground makes all the hard work worthwhile."