NZ First hails Government's $19.5m 'significant shift' away from 1080

Shane Jones has announced the Provincial Growth Fund will invest $19.5m into developing "innovative" pest control methods that don't use 1080.

It's a decision being praised by his party, which calls it "progress towards ending the use of 1080".

Predator Free 2050 Limited, a Crown-owned company, will contract the funding out to "ambitious, predator eradication projects" across regional New Zealand. Mr Jones says this will "create regional jobs and stimulate demand for education at regional training institutes".

"The new approach will also focus on maintaining predator-free environments using innovative techniques once initial eradication in the project areas has been achieved," the NZ First MP and Regional Economic Development Minister said on Monday.

"This will reduce the need to use 1080 to maintain predator-free status in these areas."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters hopes to eventually "render 1080 redundant".

"This funding signals a necessary and significant shift away from the use of 1080 in New Zealand without compromising our pest control requirements," Mr Peters said on Monday.

"New Zealand First has maintained its opposition to 1080 and that with adequate resources, research and development into alternatives, we can replace it."

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says the money will be used to invest in research and development to improve predator eradication tools and technologies.

"This project will help stimulate rapid innovation in the design of products such as more effective traps, lures, remote sensing, surveillance and data management technologies," she says.

"Natural assets are at the heart of our regions and their local economies. This investment will further protect this important resource and support regional growth."

At the same time, Newshub has revealed Ms Sage has stopped any and all work being done to use GE technology, despite official advice suggesting it could be used to help rid New Zealand of predators.

In her first official briefing from the Department of Conservation (DoC), DoC concluded the "technology is one of the approaches with potential to achieve the 2025 interim goal of a breakthrough science solution for predator eradication".

But Ms Sage told Newshub she is not interested in going down the GE "rabbit hole".

"We want to focus on existing tools, making them better and finding new tools without being diverted down the potential rabbit hole of GE research."

According to the Department of Conservation, aerial 1080 is currently the most cost-effective method for last scale pest eradication at $33 a hectare - although GE could provide a "much more cost-effective method of pest control than conventional approaches".

The Bay Bush Action group says that the annual cost of maintaining fenced forest is around $3365 per hectare. Trapping setup costs alone are around $378 per hectare.

In 2011, a Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) investigation concluded "not only should the use of 1080 continue (including in aerial operations) to protect our forests, but we should use more of it".