New Conservation Park and pest-free sanctuary proposed in Hauraki Gulf

  • Nick Smith

A new Conservation Park on Great Barrier Island and a pest eradication programme on Rakitu Island in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park were today proposed by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, to mark the beginning of Conservation Week.

“Today we are making a commitment with $190,000 from the Nature Heritage Fund to rid Rakitu Island of rats. These pests are a major problem for native birds on the island like the teal duck, morepork, grey warbler, shining cuckoo, silvereye, little blue penguin, and moko, copper and ornate skinks.  It would also make the island safe for native birds like bellbirds and whiteheads,” Dr Smith says.

The rat eradication programme on the 327 hectare Rakitu Island would take two to three years to plan and complete and would involve an extensive programme of brodifacoum poisoning.

“Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea have kaitiaki responsibilities for Rakitū and know that removing the rats is a vital step to reviving the mauri of the island. We are looking forward to working with DOC to restore Rakitū’s natural heritage, its wildlife and its forest, for everyone to enjoy,” iwi trust board chair Nicola MacDonald says.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says Great Barrier Island is a natural treasure and deserves a higher conservation status than stewardship land.

“A new Conservation Park on Great Barrier Island would be a great asset for Auckland and would help build the recreation and tourism potential of the island. My proposal is for the 15,000 hectares of public conservation land on the island, currently stewardship land, to be designated a new Conservation Park. This makes up about 55 per cent of the island and is found in the north and east portions. The legal effect of this change would be greater protection for the island’s flora and fauna and increased emphasis on recreation,” Ms Kaye says.

"I look forward to talking to residents, and Aucklanders, about my proposal for this new Conservation Park. If adopted it would be of similar size to the Hunua and Waitakere Ranges Regional Parks and would be the largest DOC Park in Auckland,” Ms Kaye says.

“The proposal for this new Conservation Park is consistent with the recent report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment seeking a review of higher value stewardship land. I am instructing DOC to report on the proposal and initiate a process of consultation with the local iwi and the Great Barrier and Auckland communities,” Dr Smith says.

Conservation Week runs from 8-15 September. More information can be found at

“This year’s Conservation Week is about individuals making a pledge for conservation. I encourage kiwis to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and reflect on the practical ways they can help conserve what makes New Zealand so special.”