Groups keen to enhance Zealandia halo

Crofton Downs from Gareth Morgan on Vimeo.

The pest-free “halo” around the Zealandia sanctuary is being extended to Crofton Downs, thanks to a $5000 gift from the Morgan Foundation.

The Enhancing the Halo project focuses mainly on Zealandia, but also has the long-term goal of making Wellington the first predator-free capital in the world.

A competition run by Gareth and Jo Morgan’s foundation saw four community groups vie for prizemoney by hatching a tangible plan to increase the number of households with predator-free backyards.

The competition was won by the 45-strong Crofton Downs predator-free community group. It will use the prize to buy more predator traps for households.

Group co-ordinator Kelvin Hastie said: “It’s an awesome project. People don’t understand what they can do, but by putting a trap on their property they can do a lot.

“Each person who volunteers has a trap on their property and will monitor if they get catches. Halo has a website where you upload catches and, over years, hopefully there will be less and less.”

The Morgan Foundation runs Enhancing the Halo alongside the Department of Conservation, Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The foundation named Crofton Downs as the winner last week, but has since decided to give $5000 to competitors from Glenside as well. Foundation spokesman Nick Tansley said this would allow for a “real competition of urban spaces to become New Zealand’s first predator-free community”.

“Now we have two great groups going at it to [create] predator-free households.”

The groups were “trying to increase native wildlife for the future generations – their children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren – and I think that’s great.

“They want to get an entire suburb into a haven for native birds – this is getting into the bigger picture: a pest-free New Zealand.”

Gareth Morgan said it would not be an easy task. “Becoming New Zealand’s first predator-free community . . . will take a real commitment. All the partners involved with this project are excited and keen to get killing some predators. It will take us one step closer to making Wellington the ‘natural capital’.”