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More kōkako making their way to Taranaki

More kōkako making their way to Taranaki

More kōkako are making Taranaki their home, with four kōkako released at Parininihi in the last week.

Tiaki te Mauri o Parininihi Trust will have catching teams up in the Rangitoto Ranges, on the northern edge of Pureora Forest Park, King Country, catching and releasing up to 20 birds back into Parininihi Forest.

Amanda Rogers is one of the technical specialists helping the Trust with the catching.

Amanda said the biggest challenge at Rangitoto is encountering enough calm, fine weather for catching.

“The Rangitoto Range is the highest in elevation of any place we've caught kōkako and it tends to be windy and wet. One of our net sites is 900m above sea level, and we've already had a snowfall this April,” she said.

“Kōkako are everywhere here, reflecting the huge resurgence in the population since predator control was instigated by conservationist Laurence Gordon in the 1990s.”

“However, this means that birds are very difficult to catch - with so many neighbours around, they aren't as interested in coming over to investigate our playback (audio tape).”

“The pairs we are targeting are mostly near the forest edge - that way they have a shorter trip out to the car, before the four hour journey to Parininihi,” said Amanda.

“We're grateful for the fantastic volunteer support organised through Tiaki te Mauri o Parininihi Trust. It takes 5-6 people to run a catching attempt with a lot of jobs and skills involved: surveying tracks for kōkako, tree climbing, slingshot firing, chopping and rigging sites, operating a 'shaky tree' (to lure a bird into the net) and not least of all; distracting kōkako with a delicious banana while they receive coloured leg bands.”

Phil Andrews from Shell Taranaki is one of the volunteers helping with the catching this week. As well as having a work connection with the project through the Trust’s sponsor Shell, Phil also has a personal connection with his family once owning a farm at the very end of Whitecliffs.

Phil said he lived on the farm up until 4 years old and his siblings remember the bush disapearing due to possums.

“It’s great to see this being reversed and the bush being restored and kōkako returning after 30 years of extinction,” he said.

The Ngāti Tama iwi-led Trust has a bold goal – it hopes to one day have a population of 500 kōkako at Parininihi.

And according to Davis McClutchie, Chair of Tiaki te Mauri o Parininihi Trust they are well on their way.

Davis said these additional 20 kōkako mark an important milestone for the Trust and for Ngāti Tama, and are critical in building a genetically healthy and robust kōkako population.

The project is bigger than just Parininihi. “As we strengthen and expand our pest control work and increase native populations, biodiversity corridors can be created connecting our work to other projects”, Davis said.

Kirstin Foley, Wild for Taranaki Operations Manager said she has been so impressed by the dedication shown at Parininihi and to see kōkako being reintroduced to the region.

“It has been fantastic to see the iwi leading this successful conservation initiative. It is an exciting opportunity for the rest of Taranaki to become engaged and involved with restoring the sound and movement of our native species to our region,” Kirstin said.

The catch and release will take place over the next 6 weeks from 10 April to 18 May.


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