16 Oct 2015

Feeling Trapped

From Country Life, 9:14 pm on 16 October 2015
Good Nature developers

Good Nature developers Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Killing rats for a living sounds gross, but for three design engineers it's exciting and a good reason to get up every day.

Ten years ago Robbie van Dam, Stu Barr and Craig Bond were nerdy university students making chairs and other creative pieces.  They all had an interest is New Zealand's declining biodiversity, and after Robbie had a summer time job lugging heavy pest traps through dense bush for DOC, they decided things could be better.

The result was the Good Nature company; charged with developing a humane, toxin free, re-setting trap for possums, rats, stoats, mice and hedgehogs.  And it had to be lightweight.  

It was something the friends happily worked on, well into the small hours, developing a Rolls Royce version of a pest trap.

Robbie van Dam A24 Trap

Robbie van Dam A24 Trap Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Initial design work went into the trap mechanism. The crew is now working on lures that last longer and work better. At present lures (bait) need to be re-freshed in the traps monthly. They're aiming for a product that will remain viable for up to year.

Good Nature's just celebrated ten years and the friends have signed on to work together, through good and bad times, for ten more.  Stu says when they started they set 10, 50 and 200 year goals. "Who wouldn't want to see New Zealand totally pest free in 200 years, with valuable forest protected." And he says having that long term vision is what kept them going during the dark times.

It is bold, but  Robbie has no trouble with that. "There's a character I like, Burt Rutan, he builds planes and he says 'In an organisation, fifty percent of the organisation has to believe that what you're doing's impossible, that's how you build a successful endeavour.'"