Takahē have been returned to Ngāi Tahu whenua/land in the upper Whakatipu Waimāori valley with the aim of establishing a third wild population.
Nine breeding pairs of takahē were released on Greenstone Station earlier this week. The high country station was itself returned to Ngāi Tahu following its settlement in 1998.
DOC takahē recovery operations manager Deidre Vercoe says attempting to set up a third wild population is another pivotal step towards the takahē recovery goal of multiple takahē populations living wild over large areas of their former range.
“Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and DoC work closely together on the Takahē Recovery Programme, in partnership with Fulton Hogan and the New Zealand Nature Fund, so it’s especially pleasing to be bringing takahē back to Ngāi Tahu whenua. We were pleased the Minister of Conservation Willow-Jean Prime was able to take part in the release and join this special occasion.
“About half of all takahē are now living in large wild sites, in the takahē homeland in Fiordland’s Murchison Mountains and in Kahurangi National Park, where takahē were first released in 2018.”
The partnership has seen DOC and Ngāi Tahu grow the overall takahē population from around 280 to nearing 500 birds. During this time, the taonga species has moved two steps along the threat classification system, from nationally critical to nationally vulnerable and growing at 8 per cent a year.
After decades of hard work to increase the takahē population, it’s rewarding to now be focusing on establishing more wild populations but it comes with challenges, Vercoe says.
“Establishing new wild native species populations can take time and success is not guaranteed. If we want takahē to thrive, we need to explore new sites and learn as much as we can to protect the birds now and into the future. We will closely monitor the takahē in the Greenstone Valley to see how they establish in their new home.”
Did you know? The NZ Nature Fund plays a crucial role in supporting various conservation projects across New Zealand. One of our ongoing projects is the Takahē Recovery Programme, working towards the protection and recovery of these iconic and endangered birds. Our partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Fulton Hogan has been instrumental in making a positive impact.