Saddleback as celebrity

18:48, Feb 27 2013
PARTY WEEK: Tiritiri Matangi is throwing sight and sound events to celebrate the saddleback.

Tiritiri Matangi Island will be awash with colour and sound from tomorrow, starting a week of celebrating the success of the island's 30-year involvement in helping to save the North Island saddleback from extinction, as well as the diminutive bird itself.

An art exhibition at the visitor centre from March 1 to 10 includes a two-day watercolour workshop with Adele Earnshaw this weekend - at Tiritiri Matangi on Saturday and at Birkenhead Primary School on Sunday.

Next Saturday people will encounter musicians and sound artists while walking the island's tracks, culminating in a finale concert at 6pm.

The $25 concert tickets can be bought when booking the ferry.

The native saddleback is a comeback success story for supporters and the Conservation Department on Tiritiri Matangi.

Poor fliers, they spend much time on the forest floor and nest close to the ground, making them easy prey for cats, rats and stoats on the mainland.


In the early 1960s the South Island population was down to 36 birds on Big South Cape Island off Stewart Island. North Island birds numbered less than 500 on Hen Island off Whangarei Heads.

Breeding on other pest-free islands was just starting to see the populations grow again when the first 24 saddlebacks were introduced to Tiritiri Matangi in 1984 from Cuvier Island in the outer Hauraki Gulf.

The birds thrived and when the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi was formed in 1988 the saddleback was adopted as the society's logo.

Birds have been moved to other sites as their numbers increased.

The North Island saddleback has bounced back to 7000 birds on nine large islands, while the South Island saddleback numbers around 700 on 11 islands.


Rodney Times