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Calls for pest control measures to protect Aotearoa's largest rātā tree

There are fears one of New Zealand's secret treasures, a giant rātā tree, could be under threat.

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It’s feared one of our country’s little-known treasures could be under threat from pests. Source: 1 NEWS

There are calls for pest control measures to stop possums from attacking the large tree and other giant rātā in the Akatarawa Forest, in Wellington.

New Zealand's largest rātā tree stretches to 39 metres tall.

"This tree is a real taonga some of these giant rātā are almost a metre wider than Tāne Mahuta, our iconic kauri tree," said Geoff Reid, the organiser of a petition, Save the world's last Giant Rata Forest.

Mr Reid is worried the tree and the surrounding rātā won't survive the onslaught of predators, with the last Wellington Regional Council possum control operation conducted seven years ago.

"I've been up to the canopy of this tree and I've seen the possum damage throughout the bush, you can see the seedlings and see the juvenile trees all eaten to death by possums," said Mr Reid.

Mr Reid says to preserve the forest, the council needs to find money for an aerial 1080 drop every three years.

In a statement, the Greater Wellington Regional Council says it's been monitoring possum numbers and an aerial 1080 operation will be required soon, but the date is unknown as they've applied to the Government for more pest control funding. 

But that's not enough for Mr Reid as last week he saw West Coast Forest, around Lake Brunner, announced as the latest of seven predator-free projects to receive millions in Government funding and regional council money. 

"There'll be control done right across is getting rid of the possums is the first step," says Minister of conservation Eugenie Sage.

Mr Reid wants like something similar in the Akatarawa Giant Rātā Forest. 

"One single possum can kill these giant rātā trees in two or three years. They're up there, they're up there all night chewing away and we can't afford these trees to die on our watch," said Mr Reid.