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Katipo home needs care

Female katipo seen at Onoke Spit in January. PHOTO/ANDREW SIMPSON

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Five katipo spiders have been found at Onoke Spit in South Wairarapa over summer.

And although Wairarapa environmental groups are delighted about the discovery, they are concerned for their habitat.

Weeks after a single katipo was found on January 10, Sustainable Wairarapa environmental group members found three females and one male among separate bits of “matted” driftwood.

Group member Jim O’Malley saw a female protecting two egg sacks and a female and male together.

The katipo is rare and endangered and has not been seen in Wairarapa for 10 years.

It is one of only two venomous spiders in New Zealand but over the past 30 years Department of Conservation has declared its numbers to be in serious decline.

O’Malley and iwi representative Reuben Tipoki who walked with the group to find the katipo, want Onoke Spit better protected from vehicles.

Friends of Onoke Spit member Dougal MacKenzie wants roped off areas extended during bird nesting season. He said the group was replanting the spit, trapping, and alerting bach owners to be aware of the environment.

“There’s been a steady build-up of people coming down with bikes of all kinds,” MacKenzie said.

“These kinds of recreational activities damage delicate ground cover.”

MacKenzie intended to talk again soon with DOC about how the roped area needed repair.

This would help protect the birds, lizards, and spiders.

Sustainable Wairarapa has completed its survey for the katipo on the Wairarapa coast and has since applied for further funding to research the coastal environments where Katipo are known to live.

This part of Onoke Spit would be included in their funding application.

Greater Wellington Regional Council describes the spit as an uncommon, nationally valuable, coastal ecosystem.

Rare and threatened native species live there including the black-fronted tern, nesting caspian terns and banded dotterel, the rare katipo spider, Notoreas moth, two species of lizard, sand tussock, pinatoro [sand daphne], and pingao [golden sedge].


  1. Who wants to breed poisonous spiders where school groups help planting/clean up rubbish. This is a high recreational area and a few selfish people with there own agendas just trying to wreck it for others just absurd and potentially life threatening.

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