Friday, March 13, 2009

One Rare Bird

Tokoeka, Makaawhio Runanga. Bruce Bay. Feb 2009. Ajr
This is the Haast Tokoeka, which, along with the Haast Rowi from Okarito, is our rarest kiwi. The Maori named it tokoeka because it has hindquarters like a weka and a beak like a tokotoko (walking stick). It is specific to Haast in South Westland, although a different sub-species of Tokoeka are found on Stewart Island. The Makaawhio Runanga has kaitiaki (guardianship) over both species in Haast, and works closely with the Department of Conservation to protect them and encourage their breeding. Eggs are collected and sent to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, where the New Zealand Conservation Trust runs a very successful kiwi breeding programme and is part of Operation Nest Egg in partnership with DOC. When the chicks are around a month old (and strong enough) they are released onto predator-free islands in Marlborough Sounds.

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