Predator Free Rakiura appoints Project Manager-Community

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Bridget Carter Photo: Supplied

A BOLD initiative to rid Rakiura/Stewart Island of predators has been boosted with the appointment of Bridget Carter as project manager-community.

Mrs Carter will liaise with the community and external agencies to support the Predator Free Rakiura leadership group’s goal of ridding Rakiura/Stewart Island of rats, possums, feral cats and hedgehogs.

Funding for the 12-month role was received from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment after an application by the Southland District Council.

Mrs Carter, an island resident, previously worked for the Department of Conservation and the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community and Environment Trust.

Her role has a strong community focus, with the priorities stakeholder engagement and opportunity planning. She will help the Predator Free Rakiura group to connect with iwi, central and local government, the Rakiura/Stewart Island and wider community, philanthropists, non-government organisations, businesses, science and research organisations, land owners and individuals.

The Predator Free Rakiura group is working to pull together it collective input into an action plan, facilitated by Mrs Carter.

Mrs Carter said she was “privileged by the chance to help the Predator Free Rakiura group identify the opportunities that link today to the day when the goal of a predator-free Rakiura is realised”.

“This is an aspirational, ambitious and courageous vision. I feel proud to be part of the thinking. I hope to help connect the dots of the incredible conservation efforts, by so many, already under way on Rakiura and the Rakiura Titi Islands, with the existing tools and new, exciting technologies emerging that would make a predator-free Rakiura possible,” she said.

“I am excited that a predator-free Rakiura could be a reality for our daughter growing up on the island and look forward to hearing from others of their aspirations, ideas, questions and concerns.”

About Predator Free Rakiura

THE Predator Free Rakiura vision is to grow Rakiura/Stewart Island and adjoining islands as a taonga by working collaboratively towards predator-free lands which allow ecosystems and the community to thrive and benefit from each other.

Predator Free Rakiura is an aspirational concept to rid Rakiura/Stewart Island of rats, possums, feral cats and hedgehogs. By removing these predators, the concept is to enhance Rakiura/Stewart Island and surrounding islets by strengthening the social and cultural links with nature, by enriching resident and visitor experiences, by creating quality tourism opportunities and by improving the environment for threatened native species and habitats.

The pathway towards the vision is unclear and will require creative thinking, new technologies and the collective input of many to achieve progress, including from iwi, central and local government, the Rakiura/Stewart Island and wider community, philanthropists, non-government organisations, businesses, science and research organisations, land owners and individuals.

The Predator Free Rakiura group comprises representatives from the Stewart Island resident community, business, hunting interests, fishing and aquaculture industry, iwi, Rakiura Maori Land Trust, Department of Conservation, Environment Southland and Southland District Council.

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