Takahē finds love in Te Anau

Department of Conservation —  01/12/2014

By Catherine Brimecombe, Biodiversity Ranger in Te Anau

Nothing lifts ratings like a takahē love story. So when children’s show What Now heard about Uncle Aka the ‘perpetual bachelor’ takahē they wanted to find out more.

Uncle Aka the takahē strutting through the grass.

Uncle Aka the takahē

Uncle Aka began life as a ball of black fluff with a little white beak and feet about three sizes too big for him. Unfortunately he never quite got beyond being slightly awkward due to a skeletal abnormality which left him with a bit of a limp. Despite moving from territory to territory on Mana Island he never quite claimed a mate or a territory and was frequently ‘moved on’ forcefully by other birds.

After failing to find a partner it was decided that he would be given an early retirement and was flown south to join four other takahē here at the Te Anau Wildlife Centre.

Uncle Aka being released at Te Anau Wildlife Park.

Uncle Aka being released at Te Anau Wildlife Park

The director of What Now came across a snippet on Uncle Aka’s story and contacted rangers at the centre to find out how he was settling in. What he heard was too good to ignore.

Three weeks later, early on a very cold morning the What Now crew were on site here at the Te Anau Wildlife Centre and keen to confirm the rumour that Uncle Aka was indeed a bachelor no more.

Uncle Aka with a older female takahē.

Uncle Aka finds love

Ducklings arrived and tried to steal the show, a troupe of quacking mallards had to be kept away from the sound guy, and the rangers needed a few takes to get things right.

Uncle Aka and Monty the takahē eating corn off the cob.

A romantic meal of corn

However, once the crew were inside the takahē enclosure, everything came right. I explained that Uncle Aka and an elderly female called Monty had fallen for one another and as if on cue the two birds moved close and began affectionate preening. It was movie magic.

“Monty is a bit of a cougar, isn’t she,” remarked Gem, the delightful presenter.

Tune in to What Now on TV2 in February to see proof that ‘perpetual bachelor’ takahē Uncle Aka has finally found love.

3 responses to Takahē finds love in Te Anau

    Marlene Uren. Balclutha 26/01/2015 at 3:08 pm

    I think this is a really great thing that is going on down in Te Anau a place for them to retire to. Now please could you tell me is the Pukeko the South Island one, and the Takahe the North Island one, or do they both live on the two Islands??
    I am very much a lover of both birds. Have photographed them in Brisbane,

      Catherine Brimecombe 27/01/2015 at 11:52 am

      Kia ora Marlene, the North Island takahe is extinct, so South Island takahe are being intoduced to safe North Island sites. Pukeko live in the North and South Islands and are very similar to the swamp hens you would see in Australia. RIght now our lovely retired takahe are looking as scruffy as feather dusters because it is moulting time and they need to replace old feather with new ones before the coming winter (we’d rather not think about that…).

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  1. Takahe Valley | naturenaught - March 16, 2015

    […] A takahe in captivity. Photo by New Zealand Department of Conservation (http://blog.doc.govt.nz/2014/12/01/takahe-finds-love-te-anau/) […]