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Rare pateke welcomed back to Tawharanui

Rare pateke welcomed back to Tawharanui

1 February 2008

Another rare bird species is being welcomed back to Tawharanui this weekend. Up to 30 endangered pateke, or brown teal, will be released into the open sanctuary at Tawharanui Regional Park.

The release of these special ducks is taking place on Saturday 2 February which is World Wetlands Day – a day where government agencies, interest groups and wetlands around the world undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values.

“We are delighted to welcome pateke back to Tawharanui Regional Park,” says ARC Parks and Heritage Committee Chair Cr Sandra Coney.

“New Zealand has a very poor record in draining and clearing wetland and with the loss of habitat waterfowl such as the pateke have become extremely rare.

“Now we are turning that around and the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary is playing an important role. On World Wetlands Day we celebrate the value of wetland ecosystems by bringing the pateke back to Tawharanui,” she says.

The pateke is now considered one of the four rarest waterfowl in the world. It is present in small numbers on the Auckland mainland but has not established viable breeding populations. For this reason the Pateke Recovery Group, managed by the Department of Conservation, has been selecting release sites that will allow new populations to thrive under carefully monitored conditions.

This release is part of a long-term restoration plan for the region’s only open sanctuary that has already included the introduction of robins, whiteheads, mokomoko and North Island brown kiwi. Other species, like bellbirds, have returned naturally or flourished in this predator-controlled environment.

Chairman of the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society Inc. (TOSSI), Les Cave, says the members of TOSSI are thrilled to be involved with the release of pateke this weekend.

“This demonstrates how effectively our community volunteer group works in partnership with the ARC. It also shows what can be done with the support of sponsors, in our case Banrock Station Wines and Wetland Care NZ,” he says.

TOSSI has been working with the ARC to restore a complex system of wetlands on the park which range from saline wetlands linking the sea to the land to freshwater wetlands in the base of forested gullies.

“Our team of plant nursery volunteers has worked tirelessly to raise plants for wetland restoration to improve pateke habitat, this project will continue for sometime yet, along with other volunteers monitoring the released birds,” says Mr Cave.

The $30,000 grant from Banrock Station Wines and Wetland Care NZ is being used to restore pasture areas back to wetland.

The pateke being released at Tawharanui are being introduced by the Department of Conservation’s pateke recovery programme. Birds are reared by captive breeders across the country and released into specially selected sites.

In partnership with Wetland Care NZ, part proceeds from every bottle or cask of Banrock Station wine sold in New Zealand contribute to the vital pateke recovery programme, and the preservation and restoration of wetlands and the pateke's precious native habitats.

“To date, over $150,000 has been donated to support 20 projects around NZ. So enjoy our wines, knowing that you are helping to save New Zealand's wetlands and pateke,” says Debbie Latoa of Banrock Station.

ENDS

• The Department of Conservation’s Pateke Survival Guide will be launched by Minister of Conservation, Hon Steve Chadwick, at 11.45am on Saturday 2 February
• The release of pateke into the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary will follow the launch of the Pateke Survival Guide, at approximately 2pm

• Join the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society Inc. (TOSSI) and volunteer at Tawharanui Regional Park. Be involved in pest control, species monitoring, tree planting and wetland restoration, and much more. Visit www.tossi.org.nz to find out how to become a member

About the pateke

• The pateke is a small brown dabbling duck of teal-like size. It has a distinctive whitish narrow ring around each eye, and its head, face and throat is a mottled brown.
• The Pateke Recovery Captive Breeding Network is made up of 20 volunteer breeders from all around New Zealand who contribute juvenile pateke for release into the wild each year.


• The Tawharanui release is one of four planned for 2008. The others being at Tutukaka in Northland, Cape Kidnappers in the Hawke’s Bay and Tuhua (Mayor) Island.
• This release at is the first of up to four planned for Tawharanui over the next two to three years
• For further information about pateke go to www.brownteal.com

Tawharanui Regional Park and Open Sanctuary
• The 588-hectare regional park is New Zealand's first integrated open sanctuary (mainland island) where farming, public recreation and conservation of native species combine.
• Tawharanui Regional Park is owned by the ARC and the open sanctuary is managed in partnership with the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society Inc (TOSSI)
• How to get there: Take State Highway 1 north to Warkworth. Follow the signs to Matakana. Just past Matakana turn right at the Omaha turn off, drive along Takatu Rd and the park is well sign posted. (Note: the last 6km of the route is a winding gravel road). Approx 90 minutes from downtown Auckland.


Ends

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