The initial scale of the operation will be concentrated to the 27,000 ha of native bush and pastoral edges. However, the main goal is to extend the pastoral boundary to incorporate native pockets throughout the 93,383 ha area then join with the proposed Predator Free Southland area to achieve the goals set out by PF2050.
Ngā puke o Hokonui lies between Winton and Gore in Murihiku. The area is ecologically important for a native vegetation cover that represents a remnant of forests that once cloaked the now agricultural areas of the fertile Southland plain. Tangata whenua retain strong cultural links to the hills, while many Southlanders value the area for recreation and natural beauty.
As with many New Zealand landscapes, ngā puke o Hokonui are under threat. Possums browse sensitive plants while other introduced pests such as rats, stoats, ferrets and feral cats’ prey upon native birds, bats, lizards and invertebrates. Pest flora species encroach upon the forest edges, while ungulates such as deer and pigs limit regeneration and damage the understorey.
These are widespread issues that are unlikely to be resolved quickly. Tackling them here and elsewhere will require knowledge to be passed on to successive generations of individuals equipped with the skills to control the problems and the passion to protect wild-life and lands.
This project aims to draw together these strands; to enhance the mana of the landscape through protection and enhancement of biodiversity, while also building life opportunities for local people through kaitiakitanga and cultural re-connection with the hills.