Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Licence needed for work use Learn More

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Boom Of Rare Native Birds In Wairarapa Moana

Years of restoration and predator control efforts have given critically endangered native bird populations the chance to thrive in the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands, says Greater Wellington.

The matuku-hūrepo or Australasian bittern’s threat status is nationally critical – the last step before extinction – with less than 1,000 birds living in wetlands across Aotearoa. Nestled in the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands, these rare native birds meld into the grasses and raupō, found only by their booming call.

Matuku are secretive, stealthy and difficult to spot due to their clever earth-coloured camouflage. To count the birds is to stand in the wetlands just before dawn or dusk, and listen for the “booms and wooms” of the males’ call.

The best time to hear a bittern is between September and February during their breeding season – booming season. Roger Uys, Senior Environmental Scientist at Greater Wellington, says recently more matuku have been heard at the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands than ever before.

“Not so long ago there was serious national concern that the bittern population was going backwards,” says Uys. “Now I can confidently say the bittern are thriving at Wairarapa Moana, because of the predator control work we do.

“Both the bittern and spotless crake nest on the ground, where they’re vulnerable to predators with nests in easy reach of stoats and hedgehogs.

“Hearing the breeding matuku is a special sign that all the restoration efforts are working.”

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

The Wairarapa Moana Wetlands are one of the few wetlands in Aotearoa recognised as a Ramsar site of international significance. Locally, Māori pūrākau and connection to the area run as deep as the lake.

Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa kaiwhakahaere taiao Rawiri Smith belongs to the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands project, often sharing kōrero about the plants, pests, and place.

“In te ao Māori, the male matuku booms in loneliness and despair. The matuku and its calls were woven into waiata and kōrero to comfort people in their grief,” says Smith.

“The calls still hold that chilling feeling, as we grieve the loss of 97 percent of the repo (wetlands) that surrounded Wairarapa Moana.

“We want to work collaboratively to expand the remaining wetlands, in Māori we call this mahi tūhono, the work of connecting.

“If we can reduce the introduced predators in our lands and forests, then we might have a chance to replenish, and a chance for manu (birds) like the matuku and pūweto (spotless crake) to grow and enhance the mauri (life force) of the place.”

If the wetlands were a quilt, traps to reduce predators would be a decorative border surrounding the blue, green and brown shapes of flora and fauna. It was Greater Wellington’s Senior Biosecurity Officer Steve Playle who set up the intricate network of 470 traps in 2013.

“I’ve known the wetlands for more than 40 years,” says Playle. “As a hunter and frequent visitor, I saw my role in leading the wetland’s predator control as an opportunity to give back to the land.

“It can take years of trapping and planting before we begin to see the impact of our work. We’ve removed thousands of hedgehogs and rats, and hundreds of ferrets, feral cats and mice from the Wairarapa Moana.

“And now, we’re seeing endangered wildlife flourish – it’s the wetlands telling us how effective long-term predator control is.”

Decades of conservation efforts have fed into the Wairarapa Moana project, a collaboration between Greater Wellington, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangitāne o Wairarapa, Department of Conservation and the South Wairarapa District Council.

Visitors of the Wairarapa Moana may hear the booms as they bellow across the wetlands, or see a matuku standing upright with its beak toward the sky, imitating the tall rāupo.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On National Spreading Panic About The Economy


The lure for New Zealand to join the AUKUS military alliance is that membership of only its “second pillar” will still (supposedly) give us access to state of the art military technologies. As top US official Kurt Campbell said during his visit to Wellington a year ago:
...We've been gratified by how many countries want to join with us to work with cutting-edge technologies like in the cyber arena, hypersonics, you can go down a long list and it's great to hear that New Zealand is interested...
More


 
 


Government: Retiring Chief Of Navy Thanked For His Service

Defence Minister Judith Collins has thanked the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, for his service as he retires from the Royal New Zealand Navy after 37 years. Rear Admiral Proctor will retire on 16 May to take up an employment opportunity in Australia... More


Labour: Grant Robertson To Retire From Parliament
Labour List MP and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson will retire from Parliament next month, and later in the year take up the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More


Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.