Pest Free Onetahua is a community led initiative sponsored by Predator Free 2050 Ltd. The project is managed on behalf of the community by Tasman Environmental Trust, Manawhenua ki Mohua, and a group of dedicated local conservationists under the umbrella of Project Mohua. 

Manawhenua ki Mohua (MKM) is the umbrella entity for three manawhenua iwi living in Mohua; Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa. MKM is made up of whānau (families) who whakapapa (have ancestral ties) to Mohua, and a representative from each of the three Iwi Trusts. 

The Mohua whānau are the hau kāinga (home people), who have maintained ahi kā roa (long term residence) in the area for generations. As kaitiaki, MKM seeks to uphold the tikanga (cultural), wairua (spiritual) and taiao (environmental) integrity of the rohe (area) for past, present and future generations.

Our long-term vision is for Onetahua/Farewell Spit to be a place of healthy abundance, where the cultural and natural histories of this unique and special area are recognised and celebrated, and that our work is underpinned by strong, healthy relationships.

Pest Free Onetahua has a bold ambition to bring an abundance of birds and other native wildlife back to Northwest Golden Bay. It’s a long-term shared community vision to enable future generations the chance to enjoy a rich wealth of native wildlife on Farewell Spit and the surrounding areas.

The project aims to completely remove possums, rats, stoats and feral pigs from Onetahua Farewell Spit by 2025. This willcreate a mainland sanctuary where vulnerable species can thrive, and plants and animals that have been lost can be reintroduced.

Stoats and possums will be reduced to low levels in the area west of Farewell Spit to the Whanganui Inlet. This will create a buffer zone and minimize the risk of pests reinvading Farewell Spit, as well as protecting wildlife in these areas.

Feral cats will be targeted wherever they are detected.
Onetahua Farewell Spit is a hotspot of shore, dune, and wetland biodiversity and an internationally significant RAMSAR wetland.

But it also used to be a breeding place for dune and cliff nesting seabirds. Now, despite being a protected nature reserve, seabird nesting success is rare and still in decline due to introduced pests.

With 90 percent of New Zealand’s seabirds threatened with extinction, Onetahua Farewell Spit offers an unrivalled mainland restoration opportunity to reverse the decline.

To protect the 39 plant and native wildlife species found in this area which are currently at risk of extinction and restore the rare habitats that support these species.

The Pest Free Onetahua Farewell Spit project could see numbers of nesting gulls, terns, gannets, shearwaters and the banded dotterel increase within 10 years.

Within 5-10 years, once eradication has been achieved and defended, rare and endangered species under threat elsewhere could be established on the spit including the NZ dotterel and the fairy tern.

It’s what the community wants - after extensive public consultation, we have learned that the majority of the population living close to the project area and the wider population want these pests gone.
As long as rats, stoats, possums and pigs remain on the Spit, more endangered species will be lost.
Our feasibility study says it’s possible. Not easy; but possible.Totally eradicating predators from such a large coastal area with extensive tidal flats has never been achieved before, so this is ambitious but doable. 

The shape and geology of Onetahua Farewell Spit makes it a defendable land mass. 

We are not doing this alone. Thanks to the support of Predator Free 2050 Ltd we are part of a nationwide mission supporting innovation and collaboration.

An initial knockdown phase will eradicate pests from the spit. A multi-pest fence across the base of the spit backed up with a densely trapped buffer zone, and intense surveillance will prevent their return.
We hope to implement the first practical stages of the project in 2023, when we will begin to lay traps.
Trapping will be the mainstay of this project, and hunting, dogs, fencing, and cameras will also be used.

Appropriate use of toxins will be necessary to achieve eradication of these invasive pests. This will include bait stations and aerial application on the spit only. Aerial application will only be used for the initial knockdown and followed up with intensive methods to prevent reinvasion.

We will use best practice methods proven to work in other large scale pest eradication projects around the country.

Key principles for the project are to carry out effective pest control to best practice standards with minimal disturbance of the existing ecosystems, and with the support of the community and landowners.

The predator-free movement around the country is developing more efficient tools at a rapid pace and we are connected to all these advances as they become available for us to use here.
The project has two stages.
Stage 1: eradication of four pest species on the Spit and suppression of stoats rats and possums to low densities in a buffer zone before the spit at a total cost of $6 million.

Stage 2: eradication of stoats and possums back to Pakawau and Whanganui Inlets at a cost of a further $3 million. 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd has committed $3 million to Pest Free Onetahua, contingent on the project raising another $3 million from private sponsors for the first stage of the eradication goal. The project partners are committed to fund raising a further $3 million to expand the project into stage 2 after successfully completing stage 1.

Funds will be sought from corporate and philanthropic sponsors and international conservation organisations
Pest Free Onetahua is committed to maintaining the gains. We will continue to prevent reinvasion through maintaining a trap network and surveillance and rapid response to detected incursions.
We welcome anyone who’s interested in volunteering for us. We are particularly interested in people who can help us to recruit other volunteers, fundraise, promote or educate others about the project. If you feel you can help in any of these areas, we would love to hear from you.
No. You retain full control of and access to your land.
Yes, your land is safe. Access, use and ownership of private land will not be affected by any biodiversity benefits gained from the project.
The operation will continue as planned with the exception of any pest trapping on your land. We can keep you informed on the project’s progress and if you change your mind, you can opt in at any time.
We are keen to come up with a plan you are comfortable with, that respects your wishes, and that is compatible with farming operation. We will have experienced professional trapping teams who would be available to work on your property. But we could also work with you, your staff, or preferred contractors to develop a trapping schedule.
Aside from seeking permission to access your land, we would like to work with you to develop a trapping plan specific to your property that yields good results while having minimal impact on your activities.

You can expect all the normal benefits that come from professional pest control such as a reduction in costly damage to your property and land that can be caused by pests.
There will be no mandatory cost to you but there are many ways you could contribute if you want to. Everything from checking traps on your property to being a community advocate, or making a donation to the project would be appreciated.
If you no longer own the property, you no longer have any obligations in relation to the project. We would renegotiate access with the new owner if possible
We will offer you an agreement in writing stipulating our obligations to you, our health and safety and public liability policies, and including any conditions you require. No personal information other than your name, address and contact phone number will be required by us. We won’t share your personal information with anyone outside the project.
The trapper assigned to your property will submit data to Pest Free Onetahua as part of its ongoing monitoring of the project.
We’ll need all the help we can get! Traps will be available to anyone who lives in the project area and can help by trapping in their backyard. There are also other ways you can be involved and all contributions are valued. [link to website – get involved]
No. Your hunting and fishing rights will be unaffected. 

Are you using local hunters to help with the control programme – and how can I be involved?

This has yet to be determined but wherever possible we will employ local people. Make yourself known to us through our website and we will get back to you.
Our experts advise us that eradication might not be achieved without the use of toxins to achieve the initial knockdown of pest density.

Farewell Spit contains large areas of inaccessible, difficult terrain and fragile ecosystems. This is the most practical, time and cost-effective method we have to achieve total eradication of invasive predators and save our native birds.
We are not proposing any broadcast use of pesticides on private land. 

Our plan does include using pesticide bait stations alongside traditional trapping methods in parts of the Puponga Farm Park adjacent to the Spit. 

Your permission will be sought for any and all predator control devices installed of your land with a full explanation of the nature of the device provided to you when permission is sought.


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