Luxury retirement home for rare takahē

Department of Conservation —  23/11/2015

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.

Grant the takahē watches from the 5th hole. Photo: Jeff Willis.

Grant the takahē watches from the 5th hole

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.

Takahē at Wairakei cartoon drawn by James Lynch.

Not bad at all

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.

Takahē release at Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary. Photo: Albert Aanensen.

The big release

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.

Takahē project by Danica Pearson from the Wairakei School Environment Group.

Takahē project by Danica Pearson from the Wairakei School Environment Group

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.

Takahē chick at Burwood. Photo: James Reardon.

Takahē chick at Burwood

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.

One response to Luxury retirement home for rare takahē


    Absolutely fantastic work, we all need to look after these treasures, but you have lead the way. xx