Urgently implement sustained possum control to protect the Akatarawa Giant Rātā Forest. This rare national treasure contains the world’s largest rata tree which has a girth greater than Tāne Mahuta, NZ’s Iconic Kauri tree.
Sustained possum control over 15,500 hectare will stop this taonga from being eaten to death by possums and create a future for these ancient giants that have towered over the forest canopy for over 1000 years.
We request the following of Greater Wellington Regional Council:
- Urgently reinstate their plans to apply possum control over the Akatarawa Giant Rata Forest (at least $300k to protect this 15,500ha).
-Sustain this level of control every 3 years to ensure healthy forest recovery and rātā regeneration.
- Protect the iconic rātā tree specimens from visitor impact with effective low key measures that are aesthetically appropriate to the sensitive environment.
(Note: Pōnga logs have been proven successful for other ancient trees and we request they are lifted in to protect the Karapoti Giant Rātā from root deterioration and premature death by foot traffic.)
Why is this important?
Hidden in the Akatarawa Forest is one of Wellington’s best kept secrets, a living treasure equal to anything found in our national museum, Te Papa. A forest of giant Rātā trees with trunks that rival Aotearoa’s iconic kauri tree, Tāne Mahuta. These living relics are undoubtedly national treasures that have been standing for centuries before the arrival of humans to Aotearoa.
Remnant Northern Rātā are iconic lowland forest trees that are now rare as they are endangered by introduced possums. One of NZ’s tallest forest trees, healthy Rātā produce a blaze of red flowers in summer, rich in nectar that supports tui, bellbirds, kākā, geckos and bats with high energy food. Rātā trees begin life as a seedling in the crown of other forest giants like Rimu. Rātā roots descend and eventually, over a few centuries, strangle their hosts to form trunks of their own. Strangler trees are a special feature of tropical and warm temperate rainforests but Rātā trees stand out internationally as having some of the largest root trunks of any species on earth.
They are truly spectacular!
Among the Akatarawa Giants two of the known trees have a girth exceeding that of NZ’s most iconic kauri tree, Tāne Mahuta!
We can build a Te Papa Tongarewa any day but it takes hundreds of years to replace one of these giants!
If we drop the ball on possum control for just a few short years the real cost is centuries of living heritage. Most of the juvenile rātā trees have already been killed by possums in the absence of a regular control programme. Greater Wellington Regional Council has a custodial duty to ensure this unique living treasure is protected by sustained possum control to ensure its survival.
These are the last such ancient giants on earth!!
We implore the council to assign a sustained budget to protect the integrity of the Akatarawa Giant Rātā Forest!