By Catherine Brimecombe, Biodiversity Ranger in Te Anau
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.
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.
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.
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.