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10 May 2021
Fight for the Wild: A landmark documentary and podcast launches today

Every year an army of introduced predators devours the eggs and chicks of some 26 million native New Zealand birds, as well as countless insects, amphibians, reptiles and plants.  We currently have more than 4000 natives on the threatened species list and many more vulnerable to predation – New Zealand’s catalogue of shame.

But in 2016, the nation decided enough was enough. Predator Free 2050 was born — an eviction order served on the three most voracious predators — rats, stoats and possums. It’s our most ambitious conservation effort ever and is to be enforced by hundreds of thousands of ordinary Kiwis.

Fight for the Wild takes viewers into the wild heart of Aotearoa and documents the desperate battle to protect it. It explores the notion of a Predator Free 2050 and asks whether this big, bold initiative is achievable and if so, how?

In Fight for the Wild we walk with the kaitiaki, ecologists, inventors and community trappers desperately defending our taonga species. We follow the fortunes of kea, kiwi, kākāriki and other native species and discover the fascinating initiatives underway as we come to their rescue. We examine the tough choices our nation needs to make as we navigate the challenges of protecting our wildlife. And among the hard decisions and desperate losses, we discover bold visions, hard won victories and hope.

Fight for the Wild is a call to action for all New Zealanders.  It tells how each of us holds a piece of a jigsaw, and how, if we all play our part, we might just see a wilderness saved and our Wild returned.

"What has shone through in the filming of this series, is the incredible passion that so many New Zealanders have for our wildlife – from grassroot trappers, to community conservation groups and experts in the offices of Wellington, it’s clear that New Zealanders are strongly connected to our land and care deeply for our unique wildlife," said Series Producer, Director and Cameraman Peter Young.

"Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) is by far the biggest and best news I’ve reported in 20 years of covering conservation. It’s a defining moment for our wildlife, so the opportunity to collaborate with a storyteller of Peter’s calibre — to document that watershed – has been a personal highlight." said Dave Hansford, Series Co-Producer and Podcast Writer and Presenter. 

RNZ's Head of Content Megan Whelan says the four-part series is the most ambitious project funded by the RNZ/NZ On Air Joint Innovation Fund. "Fight for the Wild brings together incredible images and interviews with mana whenua and other key figures in Aotearoa's fight to become predator free. It's a really important conservation story and is exactly the kind of project the Joint Innovation Fund was designed to create. We're stoked with it." 

The first episode of the four-part documentary is released today on rnz.co.nz/wild and  RNZ's channel on Freeview On Demand, with a new episode out every Monday. The series will then screen on TVNZ 1, with the first episode on Saturday 15 May at 7:30pm.

The podcast will be released on rnz.co.nz/wild and the usual podcast platforms every Monday from 10 May, with full episodes broadcast on Our Changing World at 9:06pm on Thursdays, and cutdown versions on Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan at 3:35pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Watch the Fight for the Wild trailer

Fight for the Wild is produced by Fisheye Films and made possible by the RNZ/NZ On Air Innovation Fund

With the support of The Biological Heritage National Science Challenge/Ngā Koiora Tuku Iho, NEXT Foundation, Predator Free 2050 Limited and Regional Councils of New Zealand Biosecurity & Biodiversity Forum

4 x 45-minute documentary series
Produced by Fisheye Films
Filmed and Directed by Peter Young

Episode 1 — Loss
Episode 2 — Defiance
Episode 3 — Battle
Episode 4 — Hope

4 x 25-minute podcast series
Produced by Fisheye Films
Written and Presented by Dave Hansford

Podcast One — Dealing with Loss
Podcast Two — Remove and Protect
Podcast Three — PF2050 and Māori
Podcast Four — What’s in it for Us?

Film Series - Episode Summaries

Episode 1 — Loss

10 May


In the first episode of Fight for the Wild, we discover the incredible and unique diversity of ancient Aotearoa and how, since the arrival of humans, so much has been lost.  We meet the three introduced predators responsible for much of that loss – rats, possums and stoats - and find out about the carnage they continue to wreak on our native wildlife. In remote Fiordland we watch kiwi chicks falling victim to stoats and in a hidden valley in Canterbury we meet New Zealand’s rarest forest bird and the incredible efforts to bring it back from the brink.  

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Episode 2 — Defiance
17 May

 
New Zealander’s have drawn a line in the sand, announcing that Aotearoa will rid the nation of rats, stoats and possums by 2050. We’ve been successful on off-shore islands, but what will it take to extend this across the mainland?  We look at the strategy behind Predator Free 2050 and travel to a 12,000 hectare field research site in the Perth Valley, South Westland where Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) are trialling techniques they hope may one day roll out right across the country. We also meet a dedicated community group protecting a pair of nesting Kea and discover the knife-edge our native birds must navigate every breeding season.

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Episode 3 — Battle
24 May

 
While bird song is receding across New Zealand’s mainland, hundreds of community-led projects are leading the charge to turn things around. On the North Island’s East Cape the government answers the call from iwi for help to save the decimated Raukūmara Forest and in Wellington a dedicated group of urban trappers are taking on Miramar Peninsular with the vision of achieving  the world’s first predator free capital city. Kea numbers continue to decline in the South Island and in the Perth Valley, Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) make some break-throughs in their quest to remove predators and protect borders from reinvasion.

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Episode 4 — Hope
31 May

 
In the final episode of Fight for the Wild, we travel to predator free Hauturu-o-Toi / Little Barrier Island to see what the vision of a predator-free Aotearoa could look like. We discover breakthrough technologies and innovations taking us towards that goal, then join an Operation Nest Egg mission to save vulnerable kiwi chicks.  In Taranaki we see how the partnership between community and iwi is restoring Kiwi to the slopes of Mt Taranaki and meet a younger generation taking up the challenge. Could Aotearoa’s `moon shot mission’ one day become a reality?


Get images

Podcast Series - Episode Summaries

Podcast One — Dealing with Loss
10 May
 
Dealing with Loss takes listeners back to Gondwana, to explore just why our native birds are so tragically vulnerable to predation by mammals from another hemisphere and another time. A series of “criminal profiles” introduces listeners to the Predator Free target species: the brushtail possum, the stoat, the kiore, the ship rat and the Norway rat. The podcast then quantifies the loss — one of the worst extinction episodes on the planet — before relating the peril that continues today, with commentary from field experts on the impacts of this suite of predators.

 

Podcast Two — Remove and Protect

17 May

Remove and Protect reveals what Aotearoa means to do about our losing battle for our wildlife. It sets out the critical distinction between business-as-usual pest control — simply holding a line — and the step change, and monumental challenge, that is eradication. It looks at some ingenious new tools — smart, autonomous devices that are already changing our idea of what’s possible, and what’s affordable.  The podcast then tells listeners the plan: it offers the nuts-and-bolts detail of exactly how we mean to find and catch that last rat.

 

Podcast Three — PF2050 and Māori

24 May

PF2050 and Māori looks at the vital contribution of Māori towards achieving Predator Free. It begins by exploring the deep relationship between Māori and the natural world, and the ways in which the loss of biodiversity impact on the identity and wellbeing of Māori, and on the very culture itself. Commentators set out their expectations around Predator Free, and we explore the chance it offers for tino rangatiratanga, and a genuine bicultural partnership. They talk too, about how, by healing Nature, people can themselves be healed.
 

Podcast Four — What’s in it for Us?
31 May


What’s in it for Us? counts both the cost of Predator Free, and the benefits. Importantly, it explores the costs of not doing it, before setting out a range of possible, positive outcomes for the economy, our exports, for Aotearoa’s standing on the world stage, but most importantly, for ourselves and those who will follow. In one of the last interviews Sir Rob Fenwick gave before his death in March 2020, he talks about what Predator Free meant to him, and estimates our chances of success.

Key Personnel - Biographies

Peter Young, Director/Producer/Cinematographer 

Peter Young is a director, cameraman and producer with a strong connection to the land and the people who and live and work on it. He has been working in the film and television business for over 30 years and is managing director of the production company Fisheye Films.

In 2015 Peter completed and released the feature documentary Art of Recovery and before that The Last Ocean (2012), a film project that spanned seven years and developed into an international environmental campaign that eventually led to the protection of the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Both films premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival and went on to screen at more than 60 international film festivals and win many awards.

He has credits in well over a hundred documentaries, among them BBC’s Blue Planet Series, The Quest for the Giant Squid for Discovery, and acclaimed TVNZ series Country Calendar and Explorers. His camerawork also featured on Grand Designs, Women of Pike River and Brainboxes

Peter shot and produced the TVNZ prime-time series Hunger for the Wild, Coasters and Get Fresh with Al Brown. He has won many awards for his skills and creativity both shooting and directing, but it's the opportunity to work with great teams and tell great stories that keeps him in the business.

In 2012 Peter was named New Zealand Independent Screen Producer of the Year. In 2020 he received the NZTV Awards, Best Camerawork Documentary Factual.

Dave Hansford, Co-Producer & Researcher, Podcast Writer & Presenter 

Dave Hansford is a freelance writer, blogger, editor and photographer living in Nelson with his wife Sarndra and his labrador, Max. He has reported science and environment stories for 20 years. Formerly, he worked as a press photographer on community and metro papers — notably The Dominion – before taking up writing and film work in 2002.

He appears regularly in New Zealand Geographic magazine, where he also penned a science column, Life, and blogs regularly at NZ Geographic and rnz.co.nz. He also blogged on environment issues — as Envirologue — at Russell Brown’s Hard News website.

His work has also appeared in North and South, Good, The Listener, NZ Business, Wilderness, Forest & Bird, BBC Wildlife, Australia Nature and Koekoea magazine, as well as in newspapers around the world. From 2008 to 2010, he fronted a regular environment slot on TVNZ’s Good Morning show.

In 2016, Dave published his first book, Protecting Paradise, in which he examined contemporary myths around 1080 from the perspective of scientific evidence. He has since presented widely on the social science/media aspects of 1080 activism.

He has filmed for Natural History NZ Ltd and worked on the BBC production Life of Birds. In 2001, he was awarded Cathay Pacific Travel Photographer of the Year, and in 2003 won the 2003 Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the Year. That same year, he placed third in the North American Travel Journalist awards. In 2007, he has won a number of Qantas Media Awards, including best social issues columnist in 2008, and was Runner-up in the Best Magazine Feature Writer, Science and Environment category of the 2011 Canon Media Awards.

In 2017, Dave was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the environment.

When he’s not working (even when he is) he enjoys tramping, climbing, mountain biking, sea kayaking and diving.

Media contacts

Please contact Josie Campbell with any publicity requests about RNZ shows, podcasts, video series or talent - josie.campbell@rnz.co.nz~or 021 907070.

Please contact John Barr with any media queries about RNZ - john.barr@rnz.co.nz

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