The Tui Nature Reserve in the Marlborough Sounds is another step closer to releasing native species, thanks to a donation of a new pest trap system by Pelorus/Te Hoiere iwi Ngati Kuia, says reserve co-owner Brian Plaisier.
Made by Nelson-based company Ka Mate Traps, the traps have been specially designed not just to control rodents and other pests, but keep animals such as weka safe using a light-weight trap station.
Importantly, the stations, which have an extra bar fitted to the trap for mice, also keep weka from removing the dead rats and mice, which destroys vital data.
The Tui Nature Reserve, operating for nearly 20 years in the outer Pelorus Sound, relied heavily on that data to determine when species such as the South Island Robin, which once lived in the area but was driven out by foreign pests and loss of habitat, could be reintroduced, Mr Plaisier said.
Pests caught in the traps are counted each month and the collated data sent to agencies including the Marlborough District Council and WWF.
Mr Plaisier said the multi-species snap-trap system, along with a predator diverting fence currently under construction on the reserve, would further strengthen the reserve's environmentally-friendly pest control system.
The traps would hopefully ensure pest data was as accurate as possible to ensure not just the safety of native fauna, but secure funding for the project in future years, he said.
Ka Mate Traps managing director Bruce Thomas said the company provided traps for conservation projects in New Zealand and overseas. The medium trap and station system had undergone extensive field trials with successful results in a range of habitats and was the most effective and user-friendly system available for conservation and science rat-trapping, he said.
Ngati Kuia spokesman Raymond Smith said Ngati Kuia took its role of kaitiaki, or guardians, of Te Hoiere/Pelorus Sound seriously and was pleased to contribute to the management of pests in the area and at the Tui Nature Reserve.
"Ngati Kuia are committed to the Marlborough Sounds area and have seen the decline of native biodiversity in Te Hoiere/Pelorus Sounds. Possums, stoats and rats are devastating to the survival and regeneration of fauna and flora."
Mr Smith said Ngati Kuia was opposed to aerial 1080 drops and was proud to support initiatives like the Tui Nature Reserve, which used a predator-diverting fence, trapping and predator detection dog training for their pest eradication programme.
Ngati Kuia has supported the Tui Nature Reserve for many years, including when the Tui Nature Reserve Wildlife Trust was first set up in 2011.