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Success For One Of The World's Rarest Seabirds

The Minister of Conservation, Hon Sandra Lee, announced from the Chatham Islands today that there has been significant progress in the recovery programme there for the taiko, one of the world's rarest seabirds.

Ms Lee is in the Chathams this week with Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton to inspect conservation projects and discuss economic development and social issues with the local community.

"A new nesting area has been found, potentially adding three breeding pairs to the seven others the Department of Conservation already monitors as part of its efforts to bring the taiko, or magenta petrel, back from the brink of extinction. The taiko breeds only within a small area of south coast forest which I visited this morning.

"The taiko population in the Chathams, also the world population, is estimated at less than 120 birds," Ms Lee said. "The seabird was considered extinct for more than a century until it was re-discovered here on 1 January 1978 by a community volunteer David Crockett. The main area where taiko have been found was gifted to the nation as a nature reserve by private landowners, the Tuanui whanau.

"The three new active nests should ensure a major boost as only six chicks were successfully fledged last year. With such a small number of known nests, the presence of new burrows implies a significant increase in the breeding potential for this endangered species," Ms Lee said.

"The future prospects for successful management of the taiko and other unique bird species such as the black robin, Chathams petrel and Forbes parakeet have been boosted by almost $100,000 of new funding announced last October for protecting and restoring Chatham Islands biodiversity. This has allowed increased trapping of rats, cats, weka, possums and intensive nest monitoring to be carried out by DOC staff, volunteers working through the Department and the Taiko Trust.

"The long-term survival of this magnificent seabird depends on the kind of intensive intervention that requires the support of the entire community," Ms Lee said.
"I am pleased that the work being done by DOC, the Taiko Trust and community volunteers is producing results that the Chathams and the rest of New Zealand can celebrate with pride."

Background information on the taiko can also be found on the Department of Conservation web site: http://www.doc.govt.nz

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