Biodiversity Ranger Chris Bell was one of a team of people who worked to transfer Blitzen the takahē to his new home on Kapiti Island. Blitzen was transferred from the Burwood Takahē Centre to Kapiti Island last month to join single female Ihi. Ihi had a spate of bad luck with her two male companions disappearing last year, likely succumbing to old age. A new boyfriend was brought from Mana Island but also sadly died. Would this be third time lucky for Ihi?
True to his name, Blitzen arrived from Queenstown into Wellington during a storm, delaying his release onto Kapiti Island. Luckily, our friends at Ngā Manu Nature Reserve in Waikanae extended manaakitanga/hospitality to Blitzen for the night at their excellent facility.
The arrival of any native species to Kapiti is a special event, particularly when entrusted from the care of one iwi to another. Blitzen was extremely fortunate to have Manu Parata, Minnie Clark and Kaleah Parata representing Ngāti Toa and Te Atiawa who took over kaitiakitanga/guardianship from Ngāi Tahu in the South Island. Manu led the release of Blitzen with a karakia and kind words to bless his future on the island while Minnie sang a beautiful waiata. Kaleah Parata opened Blitzen’s travel box to set him free.
Ihi, our single takahē female, had been waiting (albeit unknowingly) for Blitzen’s arrival in an enjoining enclosure. She immediately showed a lot of interest in Blitzen, pacing the fence line and trying to attract his attention with calls and plumped up feathers. Blitzen was shy at first, but later when his welcoming party had gone home, we allowed Ihi to join him in his half of the enclosure. They appeared to hit it off straight away. The following morning Blitzen was looking very settled and the pair enjoyed breakfast out of the food hopper side by side.
Ihi and Blitzen remained in their pen for 12 days together, building up their bond so that we could be confident on release that they would stay together. Guides from our two tourism providers were a huge help in doing daily watches to observe their behaviour in captivity, and confirm to us that the pair were developing that crucial pair bond. During this time a health check found that both birds were in good condition, and Blitzen hadn’t lost any weight since leaving Burwood. This was great news after his big journey resettling into a new home.
Both birds were very keen to be out and about after so long in their pen, and were released with food waiting for them on the outside. Since then Blitzen and Ihi have remained around the Rangatira area, and though Blitzen is still nervous around people, he’s showing every sign of settling down to be a great advocacy bird for the thousands of visitors we receive each year, as well as being a fantastic companion for Ihi.