First endangered birds released on Rotoroa

14th May 2014

Forty tīeke (saddleback) and 40 pōpokotea (whitehead) were flown from Hauturu o Toi (Little Barrier) to Rotoroa Island yesterday (13 May 2014) - the first wildlife species to be introduced to this unique new wildlife reserve in the making.

The bird translocations follow extensive planting, monitoring and pest eradication on Rotoroa, and mark the start of an ambitious 25-year plan by Auckland Zoo and the Rotoroa Island Trust (RIT) that includes introducing up to 20 new species by 2018.

Kiwi, Duvacell's gecko and moko skink are among other wildlife planned for release later this year.

"Together with our RIT partners, we're taking a very new approach to creating a wildlife reserve. We're aiming to help secure New Zealand's unique biodiversity in a way that's a deliberate departure from what's been done before," says Auckland Zoo director, Jonathan Wilcken.

"We will be introducing species at a greatly accelerated rate and including wildlife that wouldn't necessarily have been found on Rotoroa Island before. In doing so, we aim to create a diverse and novel ecosystem, and one which will allow us to showcase the sort of interventionist approach to conserving wildlife that New Zealand is increasingly becoming known for around the world.

"By demonstrating how intensive management of wildlife can help with their conservation, we will provide the community - from school students to island visitors - opportunities to play an active role in the ongoing health and management of the island. It's an inclusive vision of conservation success that focuses on how people and wildlife can benefit each other. We hope to help foster a whole new generation of conservationists," says Mr Wilcken.

Rotoroa Island Trust chairman Barrie Brown says the arrival of the birds is a major milestone in the development of Rotoroa.

"It's the first step in introducing a range of native species to the island and we hope it will be the beginning of a very special conservation experience for those who come to visit," says Mr Brown.

The tīeke and pōpokotea are being released into the northeast of the island where there is good established forest habitat. Over 500 nest and roost boxes for the tīeke (attached to trees by bungy cords) have been built by Long Bay College students to provide these birds with plenty of roosting and nesting site choices and to cater for future breeding.

Ngati Manuhiri, the kaitiaki (guardians) of all the toanga on Hauturu o Toi are supportive of this bird translocation, and will be accompanying the  tīeke and pōpokotea to their release site on Rotoroa.

Join Us

Want to keep updated with what is happening at Rotoroa Island?