This is why we can’t have even nicer things…

My last cat ever.

This is Merf. She is my elderly cat, and she lives in Auckland. When I visit Rakino I can’t stay more than a few days, because she is my responsibility in town, and I will never take her to Rakino. Secondly because I’ve made a big noise about the madness of allowing cats to roam free on a predator free island, but firstly because ground-nesting birds visit our swamp.

I’ve heard the high decibel chirr-growl of a spotless crake lurking in the undergrowth behind the shed, and banded rails have been hanging around lately according to reliable reports. Aside from that we have a good number of copper skinks that make the undergrowth their home.

Other avian visitors that are prone to cat predation are the korimako and tui. Our callistemon are still small, but most days bellbirds drop in to enjoy the flowers at ground level, and tui take evening baths in the water bowl. This is basically a ground-based snack dispenser for a hunting cat.

Cats can be controlled by keeping them indoors and dressing them in a bewildering array of accessories; bells, glittery trinkets, rotating disco bibs, flashing LED lights, etc which will help protect our existing native species, but their very presence means we can’t get trans-locations of natives that are unable to self-introduce, at least not until we are cat free.

These are animals unable to self-introduce because they are poor fliers, or because they are lizards and insects, all of which makes them vulnerable to predation.

We are residents on an extraordinary resource for threatened native species; a pest free island which is being strenuously re-wilded with habitat-increasing regenerative plant species. Here are some nice things we could have if we left our cats on the mainland…

Raukawa Gecko – Woodworthia Maculata

Beaut photo courtesy of Nick Harker

Pacific GeckoDactylocnemis pacificus

Another beaut photo courtesy of Nick Harker

Chevron Skink – Oligosoma homalonotum

Courtesy of Nick Harker!

Forest Gecko – Mokopirirakau granulatus

Courtesy of Nick Harper

Giant Weta

Beaut photo by Shaun Lee


Unlike cats, these critters are all endemic to New Zealand, mostly only thriving on pest free islands, some still sadly in decline. Cats are permitted on Rakino at this point, but I regard the bringing of cats to a pest free island to be the same as taking your full daily bag limit of fish; just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it. Sometimes the rules are wrong. If we band together to let the law makers know the rules aren’t fit for purpose, then we can get the rules changed. A rule change would mean we could provide an island home for threatened and recovering species. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Special thanks to Nick Harker & Shaun Lee for generously letting us use their fabulous photos. You can view more of Nick’s images at the NZ Herpetological Society website..

The feature image is an elegant gecko – Naultinus elegens, also a Nick Harker image.

Listen to Nicola Toki’s Critter of the week, the Robust Skink

Author: lisa

Part-time Rakino-ite; mainly Auckland-based. I like writing stuff and making things.

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Part-time Rakino-ite; mainly Auckland-based. I like writing stuff and making things.

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