Following eight months of iwi consultation Ngāti Rangi have added eight additional provisions before agreeing to support TBfree's proposal for a 1080 aerial operation in the Ruapehu.
Ngāti Rangi Trust Chair Shar Amner said the decision has been difficult and lead to a robust debate on the issue of pest control in the region.
“In short we don't support the poisoning of our environment and having a synthetic foreign substance dropped anywhere in our rohe is simply not appropriate," he said.
"However, we've had to balance this up against the threat posed to our native flora and fauna biodiversity from invasive species like the possum and taken time to carefully consider all the control options available here and now.
"Our taonga species are continually at risk not only from invasive species but also the displacement of plants and animals by introduced species."
Following extensive consultation, Mr Amner said Ngāti Rangi added eight provisions to the original OSPRI proposal covering the Southern and Western Ruapehu region and includes parts of the Tongariro National Park.
"As part of this agreement, in collaboration with Ernslaw One, Massey University, DOC (Department of Conservation) and TBFree, we're implementing our own water, bird, flora and fauna, and pest monitoring programmes.
"We also have a responsibility to all those who live in our community to ensure the protection and safety of not only our environment but what is also for hunters a valuable source of food, therefore the use of deer repellant will be used in some key areas."
While government legislation prohibits the dropping of 1080 in any river which supplies water to a town, Ngāti Rangi have successfully negotiated the inclusion of other key waterways and lakes along with increased exclusion zone areas.
"A number of employment opportunities have also been created as key water sources and our sites of significance will be monitored and controlled from the ground through manually checking monitoring stations and ground trapping.
"The ground control method was originally considered for the whole of the area but even if the cost wasn't an issue, we simply don't have the man-power based in the Ruapehu area to undertake this mahi (work) right now."
TBfree's proposal promotes three 1080 aerial drops over a ten-year period.
However Ngāti Rangi's ongoing consent is provisional on the success of each.
Analysis of all monitoring data will be completed before agreeing to each subsequent drop.
TBfree programme manager OSPRI will collaborate with the Conservation Department (DOC) to undertake a pest control operation over about 44,000 hectares of rugged alpine native bush in the Ruapehu district during September.
The district has been a hotspot for bovine TB over the years, and the aerial 1080 operation will target possums, with rats and stoats as by-kill, in an area that takes in large parts of Tongariro National Park between National Park village and Waiouru.
OSPRI has been in consultation with iwi within the control area for the past eight months, and a number of hui and community information days have been held.
The possum population within the forest has been monitored and found to be well above the required level for eradication of bovine TB. Levels outside of the forested area have been reduced to low numbers by ground control methods. To achieve the goal of eradicating TB from wildlife, possum populations must be kept at a very low level for a long time – fewer than one or two possums per 10 hectares for 10 years.
Aerial drops of poison baits are essential in the most rugged terrain where ground operations are difficult, expensive and risky for workers.
The TBfree programme collaborates on pest control with DOC operations in the area. The Government is putting an extra $20.7 million nationwide into aerial pest control over the next few months, and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has said that control is particularly important this year as native forest trees such as beech and kahikatea are masting – producing more seeds than usual.
Rats eat the seeds and their population increases. Stoats eat the rats and their population increases. When the seeds run out, both rats and stoats turn to eating native birds, eggs, insects, bats and lizards. The most recent mast year was 2014, and extra money was spent on pest control, mostly in the South Island.
Aerial distribution of 1080 baits is planned during September, being dependent on appropriate weather and ground conditions, and the exact areas of focus will be determined nearer the start date.