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.

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.


All go – Rat De(d)co here we come.

I’m really about 4 posts behind so you’ll need to bear with me if this jumps about a bit.

The news is all good. In fact it’s outstanding.


We currently have orders out for 950 traps – about 6% of which will be targeted at mustelids, another 6% at possums and the balance at rats.

We are in the process of confirming an order with Tumu Timbers for the materials for the tunnels which we will start to prepare through mid to late August (see later in terms of volunteers).


In the past week or so I have met with Napier City Council, DOC, HBRC, HB Biodiversity Foundation, Tumu Timbers, Cape Sanctuary and various Candidates for the forthcoming local body elections. Tomorrow I meet with Stuart Nash, MP for Napier.

All of these meetings have been incredibly supportive and encouraging and affirm that the time is right for significant change in the urban environments around Hawke’s Bay. This change fits perfectly within the picture for much of Urban New Zealand (see the hyperlinks below for a very recent story and an older one), and to be honest it is desperately needed.


As conversations develop on this topic I am constantly coming across myths that people establish for themselves.

Here is the number 1 myth:

“Oh I got rid of the rats, my cat “Biggles” is a great rat catcher we don’t have them anymore”

To which I respond – internally – “Bollocks!” and externally – “Well, I think you’ll find they are still about.”

I’m sure that a short way into this programme we will start reshaping people’s ideas on how many rats and other predators we have in our urban communities, but we all need to be aware that we have a lot of people in denial.

I ask anyone engaging with this programme to never give up – keep setting the traps, the rats will not go away – presently we can suppress them but we cannot eliminate them, and for everyone of us that knows rats are a problem, there is someone denying the same (and probably claiming the earth is flat too).

This recent article is well worth reading – both as encouragement and confirmation we are on the right path:

Backyard trapping – Stuff

Launch – September 14th, 12- 4pm

After an initial scare that 14th September is Hastings Blossom festival parade, we have decided to go ahead and actually work that to our advantage.

DOC have been tremendously supportive in incorporating this into Conservation week and helping me bring all the pieces together.

We have the Soundshell booked from late morning and will start issuing traps and information at midday, with an official ‘opening’ at 2 pm. All going well there could be a sausage or two as well.

This means families can attend the blossom festival and swing by the Soundshell on the way home – our own sort of “trap”.

We plan to start more actively publicising this is a few weeks’ time, but please in the meantime don’t hold back on spreading the word about this programme and the launch on September 14th.

We will have a large number of traps and tunnels to be issued and hope to have all the key connected players and agencies available to talk about both this programme and biodiversity in general.

This is getting serious – I need Help!

Lastly, I have had a number of people connect with me and indicate they are willing to take traps etc. which is awesome, I’m hoping i can get traps and tunnels to these people by the first week in September.

What I need to do now is start bringing together a core group of people who can play a slightly bigger role.

If you think this is you please contact me directly richard@predatorfreeuhb.com

Details are yet to be finalised but this extra support will be something like:

  • Help in cutting and assembling tunnels and traps for the launch – handymen/women – this is likely to take place on the last Sunday in August probably at Tumu site in Ahuriri.
  • Become part of a core team which will maintain/reset the DOC200 mustelid traps and the Possum traps.
  • Become part of a core team that will become certified in handling baits and assist on a weekly basis in rebaiting stations (probably a 5km walk for each person over varying terrain). This is not likely to be underway until late in the year.

Also I had approached two local web companies to help get this site up, but neither were interested, so if anyone knows of someone who could help I would appreciate it (just wanting to make it a bit slicker and promote sponsors supporters etc.) not a lot of time or effort required for someone who knows what they are doing.

Watch this space…

Also with the Help of the Hawke’s Bay Biodiversity Trust I have a submission in for $30,000 further funding which would make an enormous impact on the area we could cover.

I’m also hopeful that with a successful public launch we can get some key sponsors interested in supporting this cause. In the meantime if you or someone you know might be interested please get in touch.

That’s all for now, hopefully see you in September or before if you put your hand out for some extra activities!


..and lastly a link to another article outlining where all this began..

Where it all began – Kelvin Hastie

Image from http://graemesimpsonphotography.com