By Anna Elwarth, Taupo
I reckon it would be many a retired couple’s dream to live on a world class golf course! One such lucky pair of retired breeding pair of takahē have moved to the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary in Taupo, thanks to work undertaken by its bird-loving owner Gary Lane to secure the site from predators.
This leaves room on Mana Island for a young pair to breed to help boost national numbers of the critically endangered bird. We are all hoping, and it’s not impossible, that the magic and beauty of Wairakei may just inspire the couple to rekindle the passion and produce some small blue fluff balls.
Grant and Flotsom were released into the sanctuary near Taupo earlier this year to a small crowd of delighted local students and partners. They are settling in enjoying the long grasses and wetlands that surround the course.
Young students’ delight at the release
It was also a highlight for the team to see the release through the young eyes of the Wairakei Primary School Environment Group. When the topic of takahē were first raised, only 1 of the 30 children knew what a takahē was. It was set as a homework assignment, in which some of the children brought in presentations and reference books, not knowing that this would win them a prize place at the release ceremony.
Big birds can run!
The advantages of being shorter than adults is that 8 year old Danica Pearson was in the front row and took amazing video footage of the release.
For being big birds the takahē surprised the audience by running for cover when the boxes opened. “I loved the colour of the takahē. I thought they’d be slower than that!” said Isabel McAuley-Hughes.
Takahē Recovery Team Update
Through its 10-year partnership with Mitre 10 DOC has made significant progress in its Takahē Recovery Programme. With 40 chicks produced this year, the team has seen its best captive breeding season by far.
This year’s incredibly successful breeding season has meant that we are under more pressure than ever to find safe homes for takahē away from the jaws of introduced predators, particularly stoats.
Thanks to Gary Lane’s vision of offering a haven for New Zealand’s rare birds and plants, Wairakei provides non-productive takahē a safe place to live out their days without taking up vital breeding territory.
Once presumed to be extinct, the takahē is one of only two of New Zealand’s iconic herbivorous ‘mega fauna’ to survive human contact; the other being the kākāpō.
In order to secure the future of the species, DOC has been working to increase the number of breeding pairs in secure (predator-free) islands and sanctuaries across New Zealand.
In time it is hoped that more takahē will be retired to Wairakei.