Search Results For weka

Thriving weka numbers on Kapiti Island have been causing a problem for some of the other island residents, particularly our native tītī/sooty shearwaters.

The problem

Kapiti Island has been free from mammalian predators for over 20 years and is a haven for native wildlife. It’s home to a variety of rare and endangered species including little spotted kiwi, kōkako, tīeke and hihi. These native birds thrive in this natural environment.

Kapiti Island. Photo: US Embassy NZ.

Kapiti Island

The weka on the island – now hybrids of at least two varieties introduced in the 1890’s – have also been doing extremely well in the absence of mammalian predators, but unfortunately their numbers are proving to be problematic for some of our other native species.

Weka.

Weka

Scientists advised that a remnant tītī/sooty shearwater colony near the island’s wild western cliff tops were under pressure from the weka, which were preying upon their eggs and young chicks.

Tītī in a burrow.

Tītī in a burrow

The solution

The idea was born to construct fences, to stop weka accessing the burrows of the tītī colony, on the island’s western cliffs. The fences were built last year, and were a joint venture between the US Embassy, DOC, iwi and volunteers.

Constructing the weka exclusion fence.

Constructing the weka exclusion fence

The exclusion fences will help to keep weka out of important breeding habitat for tītī. Departure ramps were included in the construction to allow tītī to safely launch back out to sea from their breeding grounds.

The finished weka exclusion fence.

The finished weka exclusion fence

Tītī numbers across New Zealand are declining, so keeping weka out of their important breeding grounds will give them a fighting chance at recovery. Historically, tītī would have been abundant on Kapiti and an important food source for Māori and early whalers. Seabirds benefit the ecology of offshore islands by bringing nutrients ashore.

The results

Tītī have successfully found their way into the weka exclusion areas on Kapiti Island and they have now been spotted being able to navigate the departure ramps too. This is fantastic stuff and a long time in the making.

Tītī successfully using the departure ramps.

Tītī successfully using the departure ramps

Motion sensor cameras will also tell us if any cunning weka have found any weak spots along the fence line.

The next steps are to install some small one-way tunnels along the fence line, to give juvenile birds an extra exit route when they fledge. Night surveys of the colony in the New Year will hopefully prove more tītī chicks get that chance this breeding season.

“Our challenges with weka on Kapiti are pretty unique and this solution was quite experimental – but guided by expert science advice. It’s exciting to see positive signs that all the hard work might pay off,”

 Kapiti Island Ranger Nick Fisentzidis.

Working with the US Embassy

The US Embassy has supported a number of conservation activities recently as part of the 100-year anniversary of the US National Parks service. This included releasing a kiwi into Rimutaka Forest Park, supporting education visits, and sponsoring interpretation panels about nature and history on Kapiti Island.

New interpretation panels on Kapiti Island.

New interpretation panels on Kapiti Island

Their support showcases our shared values around the importance of nature in people’s wellbeing. Thanks to the US Embassy, iwi and other volunteers for all their help and support on this project.

Today’s photo of the week was taken outside the Larrikin Creek hut in Kahurangi National Park. It might not look like one of our native birds, but it is. This is a leucistic weka.

James Gibson - 1000 acre - img 4.jpg

Photo: James Gibson

Leucism is a condition similar to albinism, where animals lack pigmentation. The condition causes pale, or patchy skin, hair, feathers or scales. It differs from albinism as it doesn’t affect an animal’s eyes, which are generally pink or red in albino individuals.

Maz Taylor-Gregory shares with us her recent hunting adventure in Kaweka Forest Park with dad Mark.


I guess it’s hard to explain paradise. For me it’s freedom, surrounded by nature’s creation and the sound of nothing but morning bird song, the whistling of the wind in the trees and the odd fly buzzing past your ear. That’s my description of paradise.

Paradise — Kaweka Forest Park.

Paradise

We started off in a helicopter. Flying over acres of farm land and then into the Kaweka Forest Park. We made our way up the ranges, over amazing tree tops and rocky outcrops to land at the hut site which would be our home for the next three days. I’d only been in a helicopter once before and I must say; everything has a much more beautiful view from above!

The Otutu Hut was great. It had all the essentials and nothing more. It wasn’t over done and gave the true feeling of a New Zealand backcountry hut. Not to mention it was clean and kept in good condition. The first night, three trampers were staying in the hut too; they were part of the New Zealand hiking club and had some really interesting stories making that first night a lot more fun.

Otutu Hut — Kaweka Forest Park.

Otutu Hut

We did a few day hunts and got to know where the deer were and found our way around the place. On the second day we decided to take a walk down to the river on a track we thought existed. Turns out half way down this ‘track’ it was time for some bush bashing in the scrub which seemed to go on forever!

Dad, Mark, with dog Ghana in Kaweka Forest Park.

Dad with our dog Ghana

After around three hours of walking up and down short steep parts and crawling through scrub we found the river. It was set in a beautiful valley and was what I call ‘untouched’. We made our way up the river and saw some beautiful sights that words can’t explain. It was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments.

The next day, right on sunset dad shot a sika deer and only just made it back to the hut on dark. The sika were as elusive as ever so we only got the one for the trip – but we did see another seven.

Exhausted in Kaweka Forest Park.

Exhausted but worth it!

Just to spoil us, our fourth day was the best by far. We woke up at 5 am to tackle the challenging climb up Manson hill and around the tops. It was worth it though, as we reached the summit, the sun was rising and we saw it touch patches of the hill for the first time that morning. It was going to be a beautiful day.

During the hike we spent a lot of time stopping and admiring the views – it really felt like we were on top of the world! We made it back to the hut by 4 pm and I was proud to accomplish the full loop.

Maz with her dad’s prize winning sika.

Maz with her dad’s prize winning sika

I found this opportunity well worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

It really refreshed me and made me realise once again the New Zealand is one of the true paradises of the world. A lot of the time people don’t realise this and all they need to do is get away from the cities and social life and take a walk in nature.


This trip was won by Mark at last year’s Sika Show competition. Flights in and out were donated by East Kaweka Helicopters. Find out more about hunting sika deer on the DOC website.