Predator Free 2050: $45 million allocated on a South Westland project

The Government has allocated $45 million to the goal of making New Zealand predator-free by 2050.

The money is to be spent on the West Coast in a project that will create 50 jobs in Franz Josef.

The Predator Free South Westland project was launched by Conservation Minister Kiri Allan on Thursday.

"I’m here today to announce what we think is the largest scale and ambitious pest-free eradication programme ever to be had in New Zealand," Allan said.

"In order to be predator-free across the country, we need to be able to tackle large scale projects like this. If we can get it right in a hundred-thousand hectare environment, in a relatively rough environment as well, we absolutely think we can roll out larger-scale projects like this."

The $45 million project will eliminate possums, rats and stoats from 100,000 hectares of land in south Westland. 

"There's new technology if infrared cameras and thermal cameras and artificial intelligence in use there, but there is also some aerial toxin to do the initial knockdown," Predator Free South Westland Chair Katie Milne said.

The formula has already seen the successful elimination of 12,000 hectares of nearby bush in the Perth River Valley, and could provide the blueprint for a predator-free New Zealand.

The project is being welcomed by locals, many of whom have been facing financial pressure for months.

Communities in south Westland are struggling without an influx of tourists - but Thursday's announcement brings hope in the form of jobs. 

"They’re already employing about 19 people and it’s going to go to nearly 60," Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith told Newshub. 

"It's going to be massive."

And one step closer to making that New Zealand dream a reality.