A fledgling Whangamatā-based 1080-free pest control group has had to focus its efforts on private land to get growing.

Warriors for the Birdsong of the Forest - or Koirhi te manu o ngahere toa - is gaining flight on more than 20ha of Māori-owned land between Whangamatā and Waihi.

Founder Paul Simmons had spent more than 18 months getting the volunteer pest control group established and had liaised with the Department of Conservation and Waikato Regional Council over its establishment to control possums, stoats and rats on DoC land.

But with the group's focus on alternative methods to 1080, they are now going it alone.


"Rick Taikato has been working with me and has a 20ha scrub block that's in family ownership that we can make a start on," he says. "There are more Māori land blocks behind from Kopu to Hikutaia. so there's potential to grow.

"What Rick and I see this as is a template for proving ourselves, and then we hope to expand."

Coastal News featured a story on Paul last September, and Paul said he wanted to hear from volunteers for a new group that used only humane predator control methods to support the work done by DoC in its Battle for our Birds campaign.

Since then he's heard from 30 volunteers. The Whangamatā Menz Shed has built traps for rats, stoats and hedgehogs. These were made for $25 each, thanks to the innovation of the Menzshed volunteers, compared to the bulk rate of $35 elsewhere on the market and up to $80 for larger DoC 200 traps.

"The beauty of non-toxic pest control methods is that it brings people together," he says. "I've approached numerous lifestyle block owners already about helping them rid their land of pests and I'm slowly introducing myself to the rest."

Paul has 50 years' trapping experience and has come from Raglan where he helped set up large scale predator control on Mt Karioi.