The why.

Several times I’ve been asked why I’m doing this Predator Free ‘thing’.

It’s a simple question with no simple answer, but perhaps the best word to describe it is community.

We saw 100’s at the Napier launch and 100’s again at the Havelock North launch last weekend. I’ve met with volunteer conservation groups, school groups, businesses and ‘every day people’ – ‘good buggers’ all of them.

We now have over 1000 traps in the community, but the work has just begun and we’ve got a long way to go.

However, yesterday was typical of the sort of thing that has this boomer believing that the future will be in good hands and the best we can do is continue to nurture and foster them; and PFUHB and other predator free programs are doing just that.

I met with Lucy, Charlie and Finn at Hastings Christian School after they had approached me about supporting the program. Great kids doing good things and conducting themselves admirably (…and Lucy’s parents had got a trap at the Havelock launch and caught a big rat almost immediately).

Origami and thank you card from Lucy, Charlie and Finn

Spending time with school groups (I’ve lost count) is a high priority for me – they are the future guardians, our kaitiaki.

This younger generation is a voice for the future and bring an optimism and belief that we can ‘get things right’.

Rats are the obvious problem, however the real problem is we need more people valuing their environment like some of our kids are.

Following meeting with Lucy , Charlie and Finn I met with a Hastings Business Strata who are also busy doing good things and are typical of the people I’m meeting on a daily basis – it keeps me going! Interest from companies supporting PFUHB is such a great vehicle both for funding support but also in socialising the message.

Strangely, the message is not – “kill rats” – it’s more:

“Care for your environment (and here’s a simple way to begin) and show you care for your community”.

So there’s my why – I care for our environment and I care for our community – and rat’s you’ve gotta go.

If you want to join us get in touch. If you’re already behind us (with a trap) – please focus on three things:

  • Tell everyone (Be proud!)
  • Set your trap and check it regularly (don’t give up)
  • Upload your data to trap nz (Contact us if you have issues, we can load details for you to get started)

Also note shortly I will be generating a page with a list of local coordinators so people can go the nearest one – we have about 10 now and need more, but we may as well connect where we can.

Havelock North ready for Lift Off

We’re all set for the launch of PFUHB in Havelock North –

The Domain/ Village Green, Saturday 9th November, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

All Hawke’s Bay Urban residents are welcome to come along, pick up a free tunnel and trap and have a chat about the program.

Michelle and Paul Hicks along with Robert Mellor and Carl Vose and others in Havelock north have been working hard to have over 800 tunnels and traps available. The weather looks awesome too.

The thing I’m loving as much as anything with this program is the great people I’m getting to meet – without fault they are generous and caring both for our wildlife and environment and each other; it’s a tremendous tonic considering some of the other rubbish that’s going on around the world at present.

The traps for this next launch will be a mix of choices as we learn while the program advances. The Landcare Victor Modified has proved difficult to set and I suspect is not the best at catching the critters either, so we have reverted to a standard Victor professional which allows us to afford more traps and tunnels.

We will also for the first time be offering an upgrade to an easy set “Monster” rat trap supplied by Designed to Kill. This provided more options in terms of lures and has a much more effective trigger plate, and importantly for many users is easy to set and release the dead rat – these will be cost to the user ($10) – but this allows us to get another trap on the ground for those who can’t afford the upgrade.

On other matters we have since starting had sightings of a Falcon (Karearea) on Napier Hill and Kaka in the Napier Botanics and at Havelock North at Paul and Michelle Hicks i saw an absolute glut of Tui’s – they can go through over 30 litres in a day at their feeders!!!

The photo here is by Beven Hanlon of the Karearea in a Totara – on Napier Hill!!! Brilliant.

The village will raise it!

Born 14 September 2019 – The village will now raise it!!

We had a fantastic launch on 14 September at the Napier Soundshell.

Well over 700 people through and everything gone by 3pm (2pm start time).

However, as totally awesome as that was, I knew this was just the beginning.

We need 5000 or more traps in the community to start making an impact, and although I’m confident we can deliver those traps/tunnels, the kaitiaki rests with the communities of Hawke’s Bay.

PFUHB is an enabling organisation.

We’re looking to take the pain points from people to get more closely involved in their community and connect with Biodiversity in general; trapping rats, though not the obvious starting point, has proven across the country to be a great way to achieve this.

We aim to take care of funding, materials, sponsorship, tunnel design, trap choice (s) and trapping strategy as well as providing a base network for socialisation and acceptance of a Predator Free status for Urban Hawke’s Bay. How cool is that!

We also aim to have local communities create their own flavour – because we’re all different and one size doesn’t fit all.

However, it takes a village – actually it will take 100’s of villages – to raise this ‘baby’ (and put an end to Rat babies)

Too good not to post – taken last weekend whilst walking Te Mata

As a rough summary of some of the great stuff that has happened since launch (not complete by any means):

Jervoistown has been the quickest community to assemble and engage at a very high level. I hope to have over 100 tunnels/traps on the ground within the next 3 weeks. This has been a tremendous initiative led by Julie Thomas and supported by ‘a village’ (I will do a separate post on Jervoistown in coming weeks)

Havelock North, through the initiative of Michelle Hicks and Paul Terry, is underway with planning their launch for early November. We aim to have at least 400 tunnels and traps to issue and with the enthusiasm and support of Carl Vose at Havelock High School and others they now have the means to achieve it.

Tim McVeagh from Pirimai put up his hand to help build tunnels and help co-ordinate that region – in addition to stepping into the breach the very next day to help me knock out another 250 kits.

Tim Race is ready to run a group in Onekawa and has already had each of his class assemble a tunnel.

Ros Stewart and Lyndsey Swann have thrown in their support to rally people in part of the Bluff Hill area.

Sharelle Creswell at Top 10 Holiday Park in Hastings is hoping to start a community around her area once through a busy schedule.

I have similar offers from Haumoana and Taradale and several other areas around the hill in Napier – and trust me if I haven’t caught up to you, or got back to you – I’m trying!

I have several schools already engaged – and for me these are the most exciting and rewarding of visits.

It’s a blast!

However, we can’t have too many volunteers and in particular we need people to act as a hub within their community and coordinate maybe 50 or 100 traps (most of it remotely – nudging emails, connecting with PFUHB for more materials etc.). It’s not hard work – in fact I pretty much guarantee you will find it very rewarding.

Please connect if you would like to get involved – in particular in the Hastings area.

What’s next?

We aim to have a launch in Havelock North – probably the 9th November – final details t.b.a.

A launch in Hastings at the end of November – final details t.b.a.

We are moving to a redesigned tunnel and more trap selections (base model free, other ones at a cost to user)

Tumu timber are moving into a specialised production phase for us and we expect to be able to hit 1500 tunnels out in the community by year end.

The database from the Napier launch has been punched in thanks to Sue Calcinai from Redcliffe homestead this week and I encourage everyone to now register join our group and load their trap and catches – it’s all we ask for making the tunnel and trap free.

Generally where are we going?

Stage 1 Make traps available.

Stage 2 Engage communities across the bay to embrace and care for the use of those traps.

Stage 3 Educate people in their use and make trapping predators as common and accepted as mowing the lawn (probably make it more accepted and more fun).

Stage 4  Communities celebrate a new connectedness and shape their own biodiverse future, with new vigour and understanding

In some places we haven’t got to stage one in other places (Jervoistown) we’re at stage 4 already!

If we haven’t got to your community yet – we’re coming – or simply invite us in.

If you (by ‘you’ we mean a community of 20 or more people who want to get a programme underway) and can’t wait, then you’ll make our day – let us know and we’ll see what we can fast track things in your direction.

Thanks for all your support thus far – and remember if you have a trap – apart from baiting and monitoring it – the best thing you can do is encourage your neighbors and friends to get on board too.

Remember Rats are like sesame seeds in a colander – until we close all the holes they just run straight through.

Come on neighbor join the fun…

Who knew this could be so much fun!

PFUHB Volunteers needed

We have already distributed 500 tunnels and traps and both demand and support is outstanding, however…

For PFUHB to truly succeed – our flora and fauna to breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate by doing what birds and bees do, and our communities to thrive and celebrate a greater understanding of and engagement in local, regional and national biodiverse environments – we need a few more champions to put up their hands. There are 2 main roles people can play, both are voluntary and the reward is knowing you’re doing a great thing!

An example of how a community might ‘divide’

Local community coordinators (20-40 needed across Urban Hawke’s Bay) Approx 2-4 hours per week

Basically this would entail:

  • Providing a local point of contact to distribute and if necessary maintain traps
  • Provide feedback to PFUHB on improvements to, or issues with, the programme
  • Co-ordinate 1-2 local working bee’s or workshops per annum – trap maintenance, trapping advice, planting or other biodiversity connected activity.
  • Co-ordinate with anyone in your area who has offered to assemble traps
  • You would be assigned an area which is entirely negotiable but would include a minimum of 100 households (target volume of 50 traps)
  • Posting to your community through Facebook ( we will set up the open group for you to run)
  • Group Emails to encourage people to check traps, refresh lures etc.

PFUHB will provide or coordinate

  • All funding and sponsorship
  • All material and trap supply
  • All training pertaining to specific traps (Possums and ferrets) and eventually the use of baits.
  • Liaison with local authorities/agencies
  • Direction and governance of the overall programme.

These community roles will also present volunteers with an opportunity for a greater say in how the programme runs and evolves going forward, and create a sub-community of PFUHB community coordinators.

I personally think up to 100 traps (200 households) could be readily ‘managed’ by an individual in a few hours a week; and from my own experience I assure you this is a much more rewarding and engaging role than it sounds on paper. No-one, it seems cares much for rats!!!

Tunnel assemblers (about 30 individuals required) 1-2 hours per week.

The second role can either be independent of the first or some may like to do both.

What I’m looking for is a bunch of volunteers prepared to knock together 10-20 tunnels per week.

With the redesign I think 4-5 minutes per tunnel is a realistic estimate of the time required.

PFUHB would deliver all materials on a monthly basis and the traps could either be collected by your local coordinator (role above) or by PFUHB (when we deliver new materials) who would then distribute them.

This is a numbers game 30 people knocking out 10 tunnels per week (maximum 1 hours work) – means the programme can get 300 tunnels out per week and easily meet our goal of having over 5000 on the ground by this time next year.

If you’re interested and would like to talk further please contact me

Success with our first working bee

Less than 2 weeks to public launch – so it was time we put together the essential “give away”.

First layer of 6 (and a few more)

With a small but dedicated team – a neighbour, the father of 2 mates I employed over 30 years ago, Regional council Candidate Martin Williams, a good friend and retired lawyer, my oldest daughter and a whole bunch of Scouts and cubs from Mahora scouts group we managed to knock out 230 Trap tunnels.

Some of the Mahora Scouts – and my daughter Olive in the Hi-viz! – hard at work

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council generously made available their Rural Pest Control building (Big ups to Allan Beere and Campbell Leckie for their support) – and after a few mis-steps we had a system going which was knocking out 50 tunnels an hour over the final 3 hours.

The best part was every single person involved left with a smile on their face – and indicated they wanted to do more. I am so grateful for everyone who has been involved and it was a great omen for the launch – 2pm the Sound Shell Marine Parade, Napier.

As I said -everyone looking happy with their effort!

Please note – we will follow through with similar events in Hastings and Havelock North soon, but don’t let that stop you swinging by, getting a trap and tunnel on the 14th of September, and getting underway.

Thanks for the great mahi everyone.

Richard