It’s worthwhile thinking about this for just a moment because it poses a fairly important question: are we going to continue to let this happen?
The answer should be a resounding NO!
Luckily, we have special places like Hauturu/Little Barrier Island where a lot of these species have survived and, now that the island is pest-free, they thrive. One of the reasons why the island was set aside as a reserve back in the late 19th century was to create a safe haven, a real Kiwibank!
Because of the great initiatives going on around New Zealand between DOC and various community groups and other organisations, we can now start repopulating some of New Zealand with species from Hauturu. With careful monitoring and management the island will be able to sustain low levels of animals being removed.
Over the last year or so we have had many translocations of different species from Hauturu. These include hihi/stitchbird, whitehead, wetapunga/giant weta, kiwi, rifleman and kakariki/New Zealand parakeet.
One of the kakariki transfers was to Motuihe Island in the Hauraki Gulf. The birds started breeding very quickly and in December 2009 around five birds were seen on nearby Motutapu Island. Only one of these birds had bands around its legs, which means the other four had either flown over from Motuihe or hatched on Motutapu. This is great stuff indeed, as without the help of the Little Barrier lifeboat this species wouldn’t be able to spread around the inner Hauraki Gulf.
There are few islands around New Zealand where the pressure has come off from predators. If we can get more of these islands we stand a better chance of saving some of the country’s rarest critters, including iconic ones like kiwi, kakapo and tuatara. If we can’t, then we can all watch the already long list of extinct animals grow longer.
So keep an eye out in your neighbourhood for birds that you don’t see everyday. Who knows, you might just come across one of Little Barrier’s kakariki.