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Published: 2013-11-14 00:00:00

Hamilton City Council, Landcare Research and Waikato Regional Council are teaming up to boost the popular Hamilton Halo project, aimed at increasing the number of tui and other native birds visiting and living in the city.

Under a new memorandum of understanding between the three partners, Hamilton City has committed to an initial three years control of rats and possums at 20 sites around the city, such as parks and gullies, from this financial year.

“Over the past six years, our Hamilton Halo project has had great success in increasing the number of tui visiting the city during spring by controlling rats and possums at eight breeding sites just outside Hamilton,” said regional council chairperson and Hamilton councillor Paula Southgate, a long-time champion of Halo.

In the early years of Halo, less than 40 tui sightings were reported in Hamilton. Last financial year alone there were nearly 1600 and surveys indicate increasing numbers of native birds generally at the Halo breeding sites.

“Now we’re keen to encourage the tui to live and breed in Hamilton full time and promote an increase in the native bird population generally. Having Hamilton City Council carry out this new pest control at 20 sites within the city will significantly boost our chances of doing just that. We are delighted to have the city partner with us in this next step,” said Ms Southgate.

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said the project demonstrated how councils could work together for the benefit of the environment.

“This collaborative project delivers excellent outcomes for the city in terms of the return of native birds, particularly the tui – one of New Zealand’s most recognizable bird species,” said Mayor Hardaker.

“Hamilton City Council has supported this project for many years, through the restoration of the city’s extensive gully network and other native bush remnants where the tui make their homes.”

Under the agreement, the regional council and Landcare Research will provide technical advice and support to the new Hamilton pest control operations at the 20 sites, as well as continue with their involvement in control at the sites outside Hamilton.

Landcare Research’s John Innes said that working with enthusiastic partners such as the two councils was by far the most effective way to get research results to make “a real difference in the real world”.

“The success of Halo in increasing tui around the Waikato has been a great start, and we are keen to see the same increases with bellbirds, kereru and kaka,” said Mr Innes.

Meanwhile, in another development, Perry Resources Ltd has agreed to undertake pest control at one of the Halo sites in the Pukemokemoke reserve 18 kilometres north of Hamilton.

The company volunteered to do this at its own cost in its application for a resource consent from the regional council to operate a nearby quarry.

“This is an excellent outcome for ratepayers and the Hamilton Halo project generally,” said regional council biodiversity officer Therese Balvert.

“A collaborative effort involving councils, community groups, industry and others will help ensure the best biodiversity outcomes possible for our region.”