New Zealanders, colloquially known as Kiwis, believe that that the island's distinctive birds are part and parcel of their nation's heritage and that it is their duty to protect the endangered species. In July 2016, it became official government policy.
"Rats, possums, and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them," then-Prime Minister John Key said as he announced the goal to kill all the vermin by 2050.
Critics of the plan say it is overly ambitious and underfunded, citing a 2015 study by Kiwi researchers which found that an eradication effort could cost $6.2 billion over 50 years, and success is not guaranteed.
"It's a fantasy science fiction," said Wayne Linklater, a wildlife biologist at the Victoria University of Wellington.
"And it really is seriously distracting us from some really big changes and improvements we can make in biodiversity and the environment now."
While comparing the initiative with "landing someone on Mars," a great number of volunteers support the project by helping find scientific breakthroughs, such as changing pest genes to make them die out, or simply establishing rat traps along their workout routes.
"The momentum has been fantastic," said Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.
"Street by street, town by town, city by city, we will join forces and achieve this thing."