DOC Biodiversity Ranger Ellen Squire releases the three juvenile whio into the Kapuni Stream.

Three juvenile whio were quietly released onto the Kapuni Stream last week (Tuesday 24 March) after an event to be attended by representatives from Te Korowai o Ngāruahine, START Taranaki and those who helped to care and transport the whio, was cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns.

The release was the first into a south Taranaki river on Egmont National Park.

The two male and one female whio were bred at Ngā Manu Nature Reserve in Waikanae and then taken to a ‘hardening’ facility at the Tongariro Trout Centre.

They provide new genetics to the current population. They also join record number of whio ducklings found by Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers on eight regularly surveyed rivers. The five-yearly whio census is this year and will determine if overall numbers have increased since 2015.

The birds were named Tipunakore, Trev and Tui after two START Taranaki students now working with the Taranaki Mounga Project and a supporter of the programme.

Taranaki Mounga Project Manager Sean Zieltjes says Trev has worked with the project for nearly a year and is ‘stoked’ he has a whio named after him. Trev worked incredibly hard to help protect these taonga.

“Trev built over 300 DOC200 stoat traps in his neighbour’s carport. He also helped to cut the tracks were these traps are all active on the southern side of the Maunga,” says Sean. “Thanks to Trev, he’s protecting whio and giving them the best chance to thrive.”