The Chatham Islands celebrate tāiko

Department of Conservation —  09/04/2013

In February celebrations were held on the Chatham Islands to commemorate 35 years since the rediscovery of the tāiko—a rare seabird breeding only on the remote islands.

An unbanded taiko being held after being discovered on the Chatham Islands.

An unbanded tāiko discovered on the Chatham Islands.

The Chatham Island Tāiko Trust organised a week of activities, with logistical and planning support provided by DOC.

The events commemorated the rediscovery of the tāiko (on 1 January 1978) by David Crockett and his team. Events included an open day in the Tuku Nature Reserve where the majority of known tāiko burrows are found, a Golden Oldies Tāiko Camp visit, and an operation of lights to demonstrate how tāiko are captured, which is the same method used 35 years ago to capture the first known tāiko.

Some of the original team who rediscovered the taiko stant by the Taiko Totem.

Five of the original seven team members who rediscovered the tāiko

The final event was the official celebration which saw more than 150 people make their way over to ‘Tāiko Camp’ on the south west coast of the main Chatham Island for presentations and the unveiling of the Tāiko Totem, an acknowledgement of all the people who have contributed to the tāiko project.

The weather throughout the week was fine and settled, and all the events came together in a fitting tribute. Among the guests of honour recognised with presentations at the celebration was David Crockett and several members of the original team that rediscovered the tāiko.

Attendees of the taiko celebration go through a predator proof fence.

A guided walk through the predator proof fenced area see a Chatham petrel chick

The contributions and support of many local identities and landowners that supported the original team and subsequent protection work was also acknowledged, in particular the contribution of the Tuanui family. Chatham Island Tāiko Trust Chairperson, Liz Tuanui was thrilled with the turnout for the celebrations. She said, “It was a great example of the community working with DOC to achieve a common goal.”

All that attended the celebration were treated with a very rare opportunity to see a tāiko after the unveiling. An unbanded adult was found on the ground the day before the event near Sweetwater, a predator fenced area built by the Chatham Island Tāiko Trust for the protection of tāiko and other seabirds.

David and Ruth Crockett receiving boquets and certificates from the Tāiko Trust.

David and Ruth Crockett receiving boquets and certificates from the Tāiko Trust


Tāiko Trust

For further information see the Chatham Island Tāiko Trust webpage at www.tāiko.org.nz.