Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


An operation to remove rats from Rakitū off the east coast of Aotea / Great Barrier Island has begun.

Date:  10 August 2018

DOC in partnership with the Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea Trust Board, is removing rats from Rakitū off the east coast of Aotea / Great Barrier Island.

Rakitū had thriving breeding colonies of native birds, particularly seabirds, before rats were introduced to the island. Kakariki, ōi/ grey-faced petrel, pōpokotea/whitehead, korimako/bellbird, toitoi/North Island tomtit and pīhoiho/New Zealand pipit no longer breed on Rakitū.

“Removing rats would allow us to bring these birds back to the island,” says DOC Aotea/Great Barrier Island Operations Manager George Taylor.  “It would also enable us to replant the native plants these birds and other native wildlife need for food, shelter and to breed.”   

Removing rats could also enable Rakitū to be part of a native seabird highway spanning a chain of pest free islands from the Poor Knights Islands, north of Whangarei, to the Mercury Islands, south of Great Barrier Island.

Seabird islands create nutrients in the seas around them, making them more productive. Removing rats will lead to more fish and other marine life around Rakitū. 

DOC has safely eradicated rats from a total of 53 islands of more than 100 hectares in size. This includes safely removing rats from Rangitoto, Motutapu, Tiritiri Matangi and Hauturu/ Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

All 53 islands were cleared of rats using cereal pellets with a tiny amount of brodifacoum, a rodent poison people buy in hardware stores and use in their homes to kill rats and mice. The cereal pellets are 99.998% wholemeal the rest is brodifacoum. Helicopters were used to spread the cereal pellets on 45 of the 53 islands cleared of rats. 

“We’ll be using this same proven and safe method, used to remove rats from Rangitoto, Motutapu, Tiritiri Matangi and Hauturu or Little Barrier Island, to remove rats from Rakitū,” says George Taylor.

These Hauraki Gulf islands are now pest-free sanctuaries providing a safe home for threatened native wildlife including takahē, kākāpō, kokako, kiwi, geckos, skinks, bats, weta punga and tuatara. 

Background information

  • North Island weka on Rakitū are not indigenous to the island. They were released on the island in 1951, 36 years before DOC was established.
  • In 1951 the North Island weka population on mainland North Island was declining. Today, the North Island weka population is increasing.
  • There are thriving North Island weka populations in the Bay of Islands, the Opotiki-Motu region in Bay of Plenty and on Kawau and Rotoroa islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
  • More than 60 weka have been moved off Rakitū. They’re being held at the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre while rats are being removed from the island. They will be returned to Rakitū when the operation to remove the rats is completed.  
  • Once Rakitū is declared rat free we will begin developing a restoration programme for the island. 


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