Rod Morris

Predator-free New Zealand

The government has announced a $28-million fund to start a public-private partnership intended to move towards making New Zealand pest free by 2050. Will it work?

Living World

The tale of the hungry mouse

Something is nibbling at the heart of our ecosystems. As possums, rats and stoats disappear thanks to Predator Free 2050 operations, mouse numbers are expected to climb. Are we prepared? And since mice eat our wētā, beetles, geckos and skinks—rather than our charismatic birds—do we care enough to do anything about it?


Making birds

What would happen if city suburbs as well as offshore islands enjoyed freedom from introduced predators? Is it possible for New Zealand to eliminate them all—stoats, ferrets, weasels, possums, and three species of rat?


How did it come to this?

One hundred and fifty years ago, acclimatisation societies forever changed the nature of our nature, introducing exotic creatures for commerce, sport and sentiment.

Science & Environment

Solution: 1080

A single aerial drop of 1080 can kill around 98 per cent of possums and will have a similar success rate on rats. But for all the official assurances of strict controls, things have gone seriously wrong at times.

Living World

At Risk: Fantails

Rats have a soft spot for the taste of pīwakawaka. In some fantail hot spots, more than 60 per cent of nests are predated even before a full clutch of eggs has been laid.


Pest-free: Mercury Island

Great Mercury was one of the first sites of human habitation in New Zealand. In 2015, a radical new public-private partnership sought to rid the island of pests. It was a unique operation, and the results have been astonishing.

Living World

Pest: The menace of stoats

Stoats were introduced from Britain in the 1880s to control rabbits, and until 1936 they even enjoyed legal protection as a “natural enemy of rabbits”. Yet they were soon implicated in the decline of native species.