This summer, the sanctuary’s pair of kākā, Charlie Brown and Bling, reared four chicks. By March, the juveniles were old enough to leave their parents and went to join wild populations of kākā. The three males are now settled at Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin while the female was released into Abel Tasman National Park. Both of these sites are home to projects restoring local ecosystems.
Before the juveniles left, the local community had a chance to say goodbye at the Kākā Picnic. The event was organised and run by Community Ranger, Michelle Crouchley, and Sanctuary Rangers, Catherine Brimecombe and Kiri Klein.
Whānau from Ōraka Aparima Rūnanga were invited to the Kākā Picnic and helped send the juveniles off in style. Matua Gary Davis shared a kōrero about the connection the rūnanaga have to the Fiordland environment and the animals that live in it. He also blessed the kākā with a karakia to send them on their way.
The Rūnanga’s kapa haka group wowed the crowd with beautiful waiata and a powerful haka. The performance enthralled the kākā and they even tried to whistle along.
Then came the picnic, for birds and humans alike. Catherine and Kiri helped families collect natural foods from around the sanctuary and arrange them inside the aviary. Participants then watched the kākā dig into their feast before munching on their own snacks.
Next the children created a giant paper kākā. Hundreds of feathers in every colour of the rainbow brought the paper kākā to life. Families also had fun creating kākā masks to wear home.
Michelle says the event was a great way to engage the tangata whenua with conservation work in Fiordland.
“It was great to see whānau from Ōraka Aparima enjoying connecting with one of their taonga species. Especially the children who are the next generation of kaitiaki o te whenua—”guardians of the land.”
Many of the people who attended the Kākā Picnic had contributed their time or money to support the sanctuary. The event gave them the opportunity to farewell the birds they had grown so fond of. It also gave them the chance to celebrate the contribution the sanctuary is making to the recovery of kākā.