9 year old volunteer discovers giant wētā population

Department of Conservation —  08/08/2017

Keen-eyed conservationist, 9 year old Mia Bentley, made an amazing discovery on Mahurangi Island last weekend. She found the rear leg of a giant wētā.

A population of Mahoenui giant wētā were translocated to the island nearly 18 years ago. We have been trying to confirm if they had survived on the island. Mia’s discovery sparked a search, and it wasn’t long before two live giant wētā were spotted. This is an extremely significant discovery, confirming the success of the wētā translocation so many years ago.

Mia with the wētā leg she found and volunteer Brian holding a Mahoenui Giant Wētā. Photo: Alaine Holdom.

Mia with the wētā leg she found and volunteer Brian holding a Mahoenui Giant Wētā. Photo: Alaine Holdom

Mia was on the island taking part in a volunteer weekend on Mahurangi Island. 40 volunteers, including students and staff from Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre, joined forces with Department of Conservation rangers to brave the frosty mornings on Mahurangi.

Volunteers on boat.jpg

The volunteer team. Photo: Jo Fearn

The mission objective – cut and re-establish the track towards the southern end of the island. The team cut an astonishing 1200 meters of walking track, cleared several viewing points and removed countless pest plants. It was an amazing achievement, and everyone went home happy with the sense of a job well done.

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Left: Volunteers meeting Mahurangi Island resident common geckos. Photo: Alaine Holdom. Right: Volunteers stand at one of the newly established view points. Photo: Jo Fearn

These volunteer trips help to make Mahurangi a more accessible experience for visitors and establishing critical infrastructure to support better species monitoring. There is still plenty of work left on the Island and more trips will be planned soon.

If you’re interested in volunteering for conservation, you can find out more here.

6 responses to 9 year old volunteer discovers giant wētā population

  1. 
    Pauline Smith 08/08/2017 at 1:18 pm

    Great observation Mia. A discovery like yours makes everyone excited and motivated to continue working for great environmental outcomes.

  2. 

    That is seriously cool – great volunteer effort and then with Mia’s discovery. Wow. Well done to you all but especially to Mia – great eyesight!

  3. 

    Amazing story and discovery. ^_^ How exciting for Mia, too!

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