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Kakapo Successfully Breed on Hauturu/Little Barrier Island


DATE: 20 February 2014

Kakapo Successfully Breed on Hauturu/Little Barrier Island

One of three female kakapo released onto Hauturu o Toi/Little Barrier Island in 2012 has been discovered nesting with three fertile eggs, bringing unexpected joy to the Kakapo Recovery programme team.

Nine critically endangered kakapo were transferred to Hauturu o Toi/Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf as part of a trial to determine the suitability of the island as a long term unmanaged site.

At the time Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said it could take up to 10 years before it was known whether kakapo were able to successfully raise their chicks without support, on Hauturu o Toi.

But the discovery of kakapo Heather’s nest two days ago, meant the trial would hopefully deliver results earlier than anticipated, Ms Vercoe Scott said today.

“It’s such an exciting find. Heather has obviously settled in well and is showing confidence that’s there’s enough food about this season to raise her chicks.”

It was also a significant boost for the Kakapo Recovery team which has been left disappointed with the high number of infertile eggs laid on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, which is home to the main breeding population.

Of the 15 eggs found across seven nests, only three were known to be viable, with six proving infertile and one dying as an early embryo. Five eggs were still to be checked, Ms Vercoe Scott said.

“.We should know either way by next week.”

Transmitter recordings show Heather mated with male kakapo Dobbie three times between January 29th and February 3rd, on Hauturu o Toi. Both had previously lived on the island.

Kakapo were first introduced there in 1982 and successfully bred during the 1980s and 1990s although they needed supplementary food. They also needed protection from the kiore (Pacific rat) and in 1999 all kakapo were removed so the rats could be eradicated from the island.

Ms Vercoe Scott said this time, kakapo on Hauturu o Toi weren’t being given supplementary food but all nests would be closely monitored.

“If they can raise chicks on their own, we will then know that Hauturu o Toi is a viable option for kakapo recovery in the future,” she said.

It’s potentially a very important island to secure the survival of kakapo. Apart from Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, it’s the only island suitable for kakapo that’s beyond the swimming range of rats and stoats.


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Conservation in partnership:

DOC’s kākāpō recovery work is actively supported by a partnership involving New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited and Forest & Bird.

First signed 24 years ago, the agreement is DOC’s longest running conservation partnerships and has already injected more than $4 million towards breeding programmes, predator proof sanctuaries and innovative research for the flightless parrot.

Its long term kākāpō recovery goal is to have 150 females at three separate sites, one of which is self-sustaining.

Hauturu o Toi is of high cultural significance for Ngāti Manuhiri, with the reserve transferred to the hapu in 2013 as part of their Treaty Settlement. The island was then gifted back to the people of New Zealand, with a 1.2ha site being retained by Ngāti Manuhiri as part of their cultural redress.
Hauturu o Toi (3083ha) was declared a reserve for native wildlife in 1895 making it New Zealand’s oldest nature reserve.
It’s free of predators such rats, stoats and possums and is a safe haven for a wide range of native wildlife including kiwi, hihi (stitchbird), wetapunga, tuatara, korimako (bellbird), both red and yellow crowned kakariki (parakeets), pateke (brown teal) and two species of bats.
For more information on Hauturu o Toi, go to

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