The Government has announced its largest-ever pest control programme, more than doubling its current species protection work.
The "Battle for our Birds" initiative was launched by Conservation Minister Nick Smith in Nelson on Wednesday night.
The intensive pest control programme involving aerial 1080 poison will be carried out in 35 forests throughout New Zealand.
It is intended to protect 12 native species, including three breeds of kiwi, two breeds of bat and other species such as the kaka, kea and whio.
Dr Smith said the situation is dire. "The reality is that all our native birds are in decline. Birds like our kiwi will not exist in the wild for our grandchildren unless we do more to protect them.
"Rats, stoats and possums are killing 25 million native birds a year - it's like having a Rena disaster which killed 2000 birds every hour."
Most of the work will be done through 1080 drops in beech forests throughout the South Island, particularly in the national parks.
Dr Smith says that reason must trump people's prejudice against the use of 1080 and science strongly backs up its use.