New home for Kapiti Island takahe

BEN STRANG
Last updated 07:39 20/02/2013
rehome3
Safe travel: Hemi Clark-Mackie and Te Waimatao Ropata, of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Atiawa, carry the birds to the ferry.

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Two Kapiti Island-born-and-raised takahe have been transported to a new home at Waikato's Maungatautari Ecological Island.

Toa, aged 3, and Toktok, 7, were taken by ferry, car and plane to their new home on Tuesday.

Department of Conservation staff, members of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Atiawa, and Mitre 10 Mega Kapiti owners Vince and Tricia Indo took part in the relocation.

The takahe, hatched and raised on the island, were being relocated to start a breeding program at Maungatautari, which is hoped to boost numbers of the endangered bird.

DOC ranger Dave Wrightson said the male, Toa, was the friendliest of the couple.

Toa responds to the calls of Kapiti Island Nature Tours' and island resident Minnie Clark, emerging from hiding when he heard her voice.

Although she has been around the takahe since they hatched, Ms Clark said she is happy to see them relocated.

''You do get attached to them, but it's a good thing ... to be moving the takahe around the country to breed, and grow the population.''

Only about 230 takahe are alive today, and the bird was believed extinct until the 1940s.

Since then takahe have been rehomed on four islands around New Zealand to try and build the population, and at the Maungatautari centre, a fenced "island" since 2006.

Ngati Toa representative Evan Hippolite said it was an honour to escort the takahe to their new home, and was the second translocation from Kapiti he had been involved in, the other with robins.

He performed a karakia when the birds arrived at Maungatautari, and said iwi had a good relationship with DOC.

''It's a wonderful thing to be a part of. When we did the robins, that was amazing. We took them to Wainuiomata, and when we opened the box, they were together.

''They flew out of the box separately, and then flew back together. It was just a nice moment. That's what makes this sort of thing so memorable.''

Younger iwi members also went to the island to observe their elders while helping with the translocation.

Mr Hippolite said it was important they were part of such events, so they could carry on traditions with guiding the birds to a new home.

Mitre 10 Mega sponsors the national program to help grow the number of takahe, and Kapiti store owner Vince Indo took the birds in to Wellington Airport.

''We got in there and Air New Zealand were waiting for us. They each got their own boarding pass,'' he said.

''They were the first to be boarded onto the plane, in the back row. All the staff were fascinated, and the pilot came down and had a look at them too.''

The takahe will live on the 3400 hectare Maungatautari Ecological Island, southwest of Cambridge, which is fenced to protect native birds from predators.

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- Kapiti Observer

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