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


The operation to remove rats from Rakitū island, off the east coast of Aotea / Great Barrier Island, has resumed today.

Date:  13 September 2018

The operation to remove rats from Rakitū island, off the east coast of Aotea / Great Barrier Island, has resumed today.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is carrying out its second and final aerial operation to eradicate rats on Rakitū.

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 will allow us to bring these birds back to Rakitū, says DOC Auckland Operations Director Andrew Baucke.

It will also enable us to begin restoring the island to a natural state.

Rakitū sits on a native seabird highway that spans a chain of pest-free islands from the Poor Knights Islands, north of Whangarei, to the Mercury Islands, south of Great Barrier Island.

Eradicating rats on Rakitū will be a significant milestone as it will be the last DOC administered island in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park to be made rat-free.

A rat-free Rakitū will join more than 40 existing pest-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, including Rangitoto, Motutapu, Motuihe, Tiritiri Matangi and Hauturu/ Little Barrier Island.

These pest-free islands provide a safe home for threatened native wildlife including takahē, kākāpō, kokako, kiwi, geckos, skinks, bats, weta punga and tuatara, says Andrew Baucke.

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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