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Treasured takahē are coming to Tāwharanui!

22 April 2014

Treasured takahē are coming to Tāwharanui!

One of New Zealand’s most threatened native bird species will soon be making itself at home at Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary.

Auckland Council and the Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary Society Inc (TOSSI), together with major project partner Mitre 10 MEGA Warkworth, are pleased to announce that takahē will be released into the open sanctuary at Tāwharanui Regional Park later this year.

Cr Christine Fletcher, Chair of council’s Parks, Recreation and Sport Committee, welcomes this announcement as a tremendous contribution to conservation.

“Welcoming a treasured species like takahē to Tāwharanui is a sign of maturity for the open sanctuary and a measure of success for this community-focussed park.

“Auckland Council is committed to protecting native bird species and the ecosystems they require to thrive.

“We also acknowledge the agencies, groups and individuals that have worked together to make this happen. Takahē are a significant taonga for Māori and we look forward to working with iwi on this project,” she says.

Open sanctuary coordinator Matt Maitland says this is a major milestone for council’s first open sanctuary and a collaborative effort, centered on the future of a national treasure.

“With only 260 takahē left in the world, which includes just 60 safe breeding pairs, these birds are just moving back from the brink of extinction.

“The Department of Conservation (DOC) Takahē Recovery Programme is focused on increasing the number of breeding pairs at safe sites to ensure takahē are safe from extinction. We are delighted to be partnering with DOC, our community supporters and Mitre 10 MEGA on this.

The first stage is to build a further stretch of containment fence in preparation for the birds’ arrival.

TOSSI Chairman Steve Palmer acknowledges the tremendous support of Mitre 10 MEGA Warkworth, which is allowing the extra length of takahe-proof fence to be built, and is appealing to the public to get on board as well.

“Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue is the principal partner of DOC’s Takahē Recovery Programme and we are thrilled that the local Mitre 10 MEGA team in Warkworth are partners for this special project.

“We have set ourselves a very ambitious target of raising $30,000 to go towards the takahē fence and funding to care for the birds,” he says.

Go to www.tossi.org.nz for more donation and TOSSI membership options.

The release is planned for spring 2014.

Takahē facts (source: Department of Conservation)
• An adult takahē is about the size of a chicken, 50cm high, and weighs three kilograms.
• The closest relative of the takahē is the pūkeko. Takahē are stouter with stubbier legs, have a heavier beak and shield, and unlike pūkeko, have no ability to fly.
• A takahē is far more colourful than a pūkeko with its feathers ranging from deep blue through turquoise to olive green. Pūkeko are mainly black and blue.
• Takahē have wings which are no good for flying but are used for courting and showing their dominance.
• Takahē lay their eggs on a raised nest made of grass making the eggs and chicks highly vulnerable to stoats.
• Mating pairs of takahē produce one to three eggs each season. Of these 80% hatch.
• Both parents incubate the eggs for 30 days and feed the chicks until they are three months old.
• Takahē chicks stay with their parents until they are a year or sometimes two years old
• Naturally occurring takahē populations are only found in the Murchison Mountains in the Fiordland National Park.
• With such small populations, takahē are vulnerable to extinction, particularly if there is a disease outbreak or an increase in predators numbers.

ENDS

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