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Students crack code revealing kiwi chick will soon hatch

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Students from Oakura School. Photo – RNZ/Robin Martin

A group of Taranaki school children enjoying a crash course in kiwi tracking in Te Papakura o Taranaki (Egmont National Park) have been let in on a secret…

Five pairs of the national bird released onto Kaitake maunga in April are in the midst of a baby – or should that be – chick boom.

A transmitter carried by Haimona – one of 10 western brown kiwi transferred to the Kaitake ranges from the Rotokare Scenic Reserve earlier this year – is beeping in patterns indecipherable to all but those in the know.

Taranaki Kiwi Trust operations leader Sian Portier​ is translating the code with the help of children from Oakura School.

“So there’s nine and four there … so minus two from nine is seven [and two from four is two] … so 72 days he’s been sitting. So, like I said 75 is about hatch time so any day now he should hatch out.”

Kiwi had been absent from the range for decades. But Haimona is incubating an egg, about to become a dad, and he’s not alone.

Portier said the kiwi were wearing a transmitter with a mercury switch which recorded their activity every 10 minutes.

The telemetry codes or beeps provide a wealth of information.

“So those codes will tell us everything from how long a bird has been incubating or if it is incubating what state it’s in, down to what time it came out to feed last night and how many hours it was actually out for last night, the night before and an average over the last four nights as well.”

Read the full Radio NZ article here.

 

Apprentices relish chance to protect birds on Taranaki Maunga

Friday, October 15th, 2021

Apprentices Mereana Hanrahan, Mawene Bidois, Jarvis Edwards and Tipunakore Rangiwai. Photo – Vanessa Laurie

Seeing flocks of kereru whirring past as he works is a highlight of Mawena Bidois’​ new job as a pest controller​ on Taranaki Maunga.

He’s one of four apprentices who started work with the Taranaki Mounga Project three weeks ago, and is full of enthusiasm for his new career.

“This job gives me the opportunity to work alongside my maunga, my mountain, my biggest aspiration,” he said.

“We are eradicating a lot of predators, so we can release kiwi and whio back into the maunga, so they can thrive in here. Every day is different, that’s what I like about it.”

The apprenticeship scheme is funded through Predator Free New Zealand as part of a nationwide programme to train more animal pest control specialists to support the predator-free vision.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Dog attack likely to have killed kiwi on Egmont National Park

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

A male North Island brown kiwi found dead on Mount Taranaki’s Puniho Track is believed to have been killed in a dog attack.

DOC Taranaki Operations Manager Gareth Hopkins discovered the male adult kiwi wedged between rocks while out hiking last week.

An autopsy found the bird suffered multiple fractured ribs and femur, along with a broken spine. Vets found the fatal injuries were consistent with a dog attack.

Gareth Hopkins says it’s always sad to find a dead kiwi, particularly when its death was completely avoidable: “Dogs are not allowed in Egmont National Park for this very reason – they are a significant risk to wildlife we’re protecting in the park.”

Taranaki Mounga Project Co-Project Manager Sean Zieltjes says the kiwi had no transmitter so was born on the maunga and likely had offspring in the area.

“In the wild, kiwi have only a five percent chance of survival to adulthood. It’s so disappointing to see this healthy adult kiwi killed.”

Representatives from Taranaki Iwi hapū, Ngā Mahanga, had named the kiwi Tohu.

An adult male kiwi can breed for up to 40 years, and potentially father more than 50 chicks – so this kiwi’s death has ramifications for the species population in the national park.

Charges can be filed against owners if there is evidence their dogs have killed kiwi, with a maximum penalty of $100,000 under the National Parks Act.

Members of the public can report sightings of dogs in the national park by calling 0800 DOC HOT, and in doing so, should share as many details as possible on what they have seen.

For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

Conservation millions also help Taranaki hapū and whānau

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Ten million dollars of funding for conservation projects in Taranaki is also fostering hapū and whānau, say project leaders.

Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan has announced $9.98 million from the government’s Jobs for Nature programme for 12 existing projects, creating 58 new jobs over three years.

The projects include pest control, native revegetation, and protecting species including kiwi, hihi and kōkako.

Most of them are Māori projects and include three run directly by hapū, and more by iwi.

Te Ātiawa hapū Ngāti Tawhirikura will get $976,000 towards its restoration of the Waiwhakaiho River from Taranaki Mounga to the sea.

Read the full Radio New Zealand article here.

Students in lockdown can go on virtual field trip

Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Taranaki is the most likely New Zealand volcano to cause a national-scale impact in our lifetimes and a new virtual field trip will help prepare tamariki across Aotearoa to understand and cope with possible disruption.

Prevailing winds could carry volcanic ash to Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty to disrupt air and surface transport, tourism, farming, power and water supplies.

Previous eruptions have continued for years, decades, or even centuries.

The virtual field trip, Volcanoes: our sleeping mounga in Taranaki, has been produced by the Earthquake Commission, the Volcanic Futures project and online field trip producer LEARNZ, to teach students about volcanic hazards, science and mātauranga.

LEARNZ kaiārahi Shelley Hersey, who is hosting the field trip says with so many students in lockdown, this virtual field trip is a free, accessible, inspirational and informative learning experience to explore Taranaki mounga, for students in Taranaki and around the country.

“Students will learn about volcanoes, but they can also look at ways people are working to understand and monitor volcanic processes to support community preparedness and resilience,” says Shelley.

Read the full SunLive article here.

Kaitake Ranges ready to welcome new arrivals of kiwi chicks

Friday, July 30th, 2021

Conservationists working in Taranaki are closely monitoring two kiwi eggs being incubated by recently released male birds in the Kaitake Ranges.

The adult male kiwi were among 10 male and female birds released into the Kaitake Ranges in April and May.

Taranaki Kiwi Trust operations leader Sian Portier​ said staff have been monitoring transmitters attached to the birds to follow their movements and feeding patterns.

The transmitters now show two male birds incubating eggs, she said.

“It’s very exciting discovery to make only a few months after the birds had been released.

“It’s awesome they got straight into breeding and none of them have been killed by predators.”

Monitoring via transmitters also meant conservationists did not have to physically check until later on, Portier said.

“We don’t have to go close to the birds during incubation period and they are not disturbed.”

The male birds, Myagi​ and Spencer, have been incubating the eggs for 25 days and six days respectively.

Kiwi will normally incubate eggs between 70-80 days.

The birds were released after heavy trapping program over the past three-to-four years by Taranaki Mounga and Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust (KRCT).

Without the trapping programme the birds, bred at Rotokare Scenic Trust, would not have been released, Portier said.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

NZ on track for predator-free targets

Monday, June 14th, 2021

A new report is giving hope to conservationists hoping to stem New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis

It’s been five years since the Government launched its ambitious goal of ridding the country of rats, possums, and mustelids by 2050.

The programme aimed to move from piecemeal local projects to a strategic nationwide approach for eradicating the three worst offenders to our biodiversity.

Five years on, the programme is taking stock and reflecting in its first progress report, released at a summit in Wellington last week.

The report shows good progress on five of the seven goals the plan set to achieve by 2025, with one not likely to be achieved in that timeframe and the other not having enough data.

The past five years have also seen the start of 19 landscape-scale predator eradication projects, with six more currently in the planning stages.

These include projects across the country covering areas from Whangārei, to Waiheke, to Aoraki/Mt Cook. Some deal with urban landscape such as Predator Free Dunedin, while others like Pest Free Banks Peninsula include farm land.

One of the first to be funded was Taranaki Mounga, a project to secure 34,000 hectares of Taranaki mountain, ranges and islands from pests.

Director Jan Hania says the project aims to be a model for how pest eradication can work on a large scale.

“We want to be an example of what’s possible,” says Hania.

“This is more than just a conservation project, this is about people connecting with our land.”

Read the full Newsroom article here.

Rāhui on Taranaki Mounga lifted

Friday, May 14th, 2021

The rāhui was lifted at 7 am on Friday 14 May and all operations and activities on the mountain can recommence.

In respect for the passing of the two climbers near the summit last week, a rāhui had been in place since Wednesday 5 May.

Ngā Iwi o Taranaki and DOC thank the public for respecting the rāhui, an important cultural custom for mana whenua.

Iwi representatives expressed their sympathy for the families who lost loved ones last week, and their appreciation for those personally involved in the rescue and recovery operation.

DOC urges all climbers, trampers, and visitors to the mounga to follow the Land Safety Code advice set out by the Mountain Safety Council, which can be found on the DOC website.

Kiwi returns to the Kaitake Range

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

TV One – Seven Sharp

The return of kiwi after an absence of decades is thanks to the massive community effort to reduce predators numbers on the Kaitake Range.

Watch the Seven Sharp article here.

Fiona Gordon from Rotokare Scenic Trust, Tane Manu of Ngā Mahanga a Tairi and Sian Potier from the Taranaki Kiwi Trust.
Photo – Jenny Feaver.

Kiwi coming back to Taranaki’s Kaitake Range

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

Fiona Gordon, Conservation Manager at Rotokare Scenic Reserve holds a kiwi no living on the Kaitake Range. Photo – Jenny Feaver.

Taranaki Daily News

A vanguard of three adult kiwi have been released into hills near New Plymouth as part of a historic reintroduction of the native birds into the area.

Over the next few days 10 western brown kiwi will be released into the Kaitake Range near Taranaki’s famous Pukeiti garden. The range is close to Taranaki Maunga and part of the national park.

The release of the birds was a significant milestone for predator control on the maunga, Tane Manu​, of Ngā Mahanga ā Tāiri​, told a large audience of manu whenua and manuhiri during the powhiri at Pukeiti on Friday.

“There was lots of work still be done to protect kiwi, and it is a tribute to the Kaitake Conservation Trust volunteers and community who have helped make it possible to release the tāonga in the Kaitake Range,” he said.

The kiwi were introduced into the safe haven following intensive trapping and aerial 1080 operations targetting mustelids, rats, and possums, Manu said.

The trio of male and female birds, aged under two years old, were hatched and reared at Rotokare Scenic Reserve Sanctuary, near Eltham.

Much of the work to prepare kiwi for release was due to the late Simon Collins, of Rotokare Scenic Trust, who was a huge advocate for conservation in the community, Tane Houston, of Ngāti Tupaea said.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Jacinda the wētā discovered living on maunga Taranaki

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Taranaki Daily News

Jacinda has been found living on maunga Taranaki – no, not the Prime Minister, but an extremely rare type of wētā which is named after her.

Hemiandrus jacinda is named after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo Zoe Stone.

It is the furthest south that Hemiandrus jacinda has been spotted, and managers of the Te Papakura o Taranaki say it is proof efforts to trap predators within the national park are working.

The discovery was made by a scientist studying endangered toutouwai (NZ robin).

Dr Zoe Stone, from Auckland, spent the summer in the park tagging and tracking the birds for her post-doctoral research project with Massey University.

She had not expected to come across an even more endangered creature.

Hemiandrus jacinda is reddish coloured and has a body that is 5cm long, excluding the antennae.

It was named after the Prime Minister by Massey University ecologist Steven Trewick, who published an official description of it in early March.

When Stone read about the discovery, she remembered spotting a large red wētā on the track early one December morning.

“It was a cool big one, so I took a few photos then I heard a robin call out, and I got distracted,” she said.

“I didn’t think anything of it until I saw Steve’s article come out, and it looked very similar,” she said.

She sent the photos to Trewick, Palmerston North, who confirmed the insect looked like a jacinda wētā, and travelled to Taranaki for a nighttime hunt for more of them.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Wētā thrive on Taranaki Maunga when rats absent, study showed

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Wētā motel. Photo – Fern Kumeroa.

Taranaki Daily News

Research projects by two post-graduate university students have revealed more about the dietary behaviour of predators on Mt Taranaki.

Massey University zoology graduate Fern Kumeroa​, and Lincoln University natural resource management and ecological engineering graduate Katie Coster​ were involved in separate studies with similar aims during the summer.

Kumeroa, of Ngāti Ruanui, researched the effect rats had on wētā populations in the region’s national park Te Papakura o Taranaki.

The Ngā Pae o Te Maramatanga​ scholarship recipient worked with the Taranaki Mounga project to set up 17 ‘wētā motels’, or artificial shelters, on tree trunks within a 1000ha block in the national park, for wētā to crawl into, safe from predators.

Fifty-eight tracking tunnels were placed inside, and outside, the control block, to gauge whether insect and predator activity increased, or decreased, the further away the shelters were placed from the control area.

Previous studies have found invertebrate populations, such as wētā, respond well to rodent control and increase in number with fewer rodents around.

Footprint tracks, monitored by Kumeroa over an eight-week period, showed wētā tracks increased inside the A24 block, and decreased the further away from the block.

The opposite was true for rats, with numbers down within the block, and more away from it.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.