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It’s dinner time and Matthew Mold, a ranger on Tiritiri Matangi Island, gets a call from a frantic woman who has lost her passport.

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Today’s photo of the week is of a male hihi/stitchbird on Tiritiri Matangi Island near Auckland.

Hihi/stitchbird on Tiritiri Matangi. Photo: J. Graham | flickr | Creative Commons license.

Last week the Hihi/Stitchbird Recovery Group won a prestigious Australasian conservation award in recognition of their efforts to protect this rare native bird.

The Practitioner Award was awarded to the group by the Australasian Wildlife Management Society (AWMS) at their annual conference.

“New Zealanders should be very proud of the hihi conservation success story,” said the elated Dr John Ewen, co-leader of the Hihi Recovery Group.

This photo was taken by J. Graham | CC BY-NC 2.0

Over Queen’s Birthday weekend, Lucy Lawless, of Xena fame, helped launch the North Island’s first Kiwi Ranger site at Tiritiri Matangi.

Lucy Lawless at Tiritiri Matangi.

Lucy Lawless becomes a Kiwi Ranger convert

Auckland children and their families jumped at the chance to participate and travel via ferry from the mainland to the island, with more than 150 newly accredited Kiwi Rangers receiving official badges and certificates upon completion over the weekend.

Students bird spotting with a volunteer guide at Tiritiri Matangi.

Students from Cornwall Park School bird spotting with volunteer guide Sue Minchin

The success of the weekend was a team effort, with 360 Discovery offering a free child fare for every adult ticket purchased over the holiday weekend, and the volunteers from Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi looking after the deluge of new arrivals with such care and attention.

Tiritiri Matangi Island is an fabulous example of successful conservation work. More than 120 years of farming meant by the 1980s it had been stripped of almost all of its native bush. Intensive work by dedicated volunteers means 60 per cent of the sanctuary is covered with forest and it is home to some of the world’s rarest species.

Children celebrate completing the programme with a volunteer guide.

Yes, we got the badges! Children celebrate with Maria Galbraith, one of the volunteer guides

Visitors were treated to a close-up walk around the island to see its conservation jewels, including the kōkakotakahē, and hihi.

The children share their completed activities with the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi.

The children share their completed activities with the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi guiding manager Mary-Ann Rowland

Until now, Kiwi Ranger has only been available at 10 conservation sites in the South Island. Plans are afoot for it to be included at more North Island locations soon.

Lucy Lawless on the ferry with some of the 'Kiwi Ranger' families.

Lucy Lawless and some of the ‘Kiwi Ranger’ families on launch day

Become a Kiwi Ranger

Kiwi Ranger is a fun interactive programme offered free to kids of all ages, 3-103! It’s available in a range of places around New Zealand, and is a fun way for families to get to know these special places together. Find out more on the DOC website.