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Our history

Pip Aplin, 1941-2021, DISECT founding Co-Chair

Rangitoto Birdsong is a project developed by the D’Urville Island Stoat Eradication Charitable Trust (DISECT) that aims to enhance Rangitoto ki te Tonga’s biodiversity, in particular, the island’s birdlife, by eradicating one of the island’s most damaging predators: stoats.

D’Urville Island/Rangitoto ki te Tonga is the eighth-largest of New Zealand’s islands. It is a nationally significant taonga for its diverse geology, relatively intact and diverse plant communities and a high number of threatened, rare or unusual species.

The combination of Public Conservation Land, forestry, farming and small, privately owned coastal sections makes for a challenging eradication – one of the first of its kind to be attempted in New Zealand.

DISECT had its beginnings in 2004, when retiring scientist and researcher Dr Oliver Sutherland, a man with deep family connections to the area, and D’Urville Island resident Pip Aplin, along with local iwi Ngāti Koata representatives Jim Elkington, Wilma Ruruku Rodrigues and Ross Kawharu got together an interested group and established the Trust. The island’s landholders have been universally supportive and have been a vital part of the work and planning helping us to bring the project into action.

Between 2016 and 2020 we have partnered with Rātā Foundation, Predator Free 2050 Limited, DOC and the Marlborough District Council to raise close to three million dollars to fund the eradication. The NZ Lottery Grants Board and our project benefactors have also made significant contributions to make Rangitoto Birdsong a reality.

We aim to complete the project in 2026.

Our vision and goals

Our vision is that stoat eradication will provide ecological, social and economic benefits to Rangitoto ki te Tonga/D’Urville Island.

We will know we have succeeded when:

  • The existing ecological values of the island are enhanced
  • Recently lost species, such as South Island Kākā, are reintroduced to the island
  • Nationally-significant populations of threatened native species on near-by islands are protected from stoat incursion
  • The project provides income and employment opportunities for the island community
  • The project provides learnings for biodiversity conservation in New Zealand

Stages of the project:

  • Set up – Establishing trap-lies, deploying traps: August 2020 – October 2021
  • Knockdown – Traplines go ‘live’: April 2022
  • Detection322 cameras detect any remaining stoat activity
  • Mop up – Eradicate any remaining stoats: June – October 2022
  • Validation – Regular monitoring to detect any remaining stoats: appropriate periods during 2023, 2024
Meet the people

Rupert Wilson

Governance Committee Chair
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Guy King

Deputy Chair
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Oliver Sutherland

Governance Commite
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Caroline Webber Palmer

Trust Member / Governance Committee
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Geoff Harley

Governance Committee
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Sanne Korinth

Governance Committee
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Mark Pengelly

Project Manager
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Clyde Holden

Acting Operations Manager
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Technical Advisory Group

Andrew Veale

Maanaki Whenua Landcare Research
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Nick Poutu

Department of conservation (DOC)
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Al Bramley

Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP)
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Dave Butler

Department of conservation (DOC)
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