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             Issue 1, August 2004

           Kapiti                   Kapiti Island is a dramatic icon along our Kapiti Coast. It stands sentinel at the
                                    northern entrance to Cook Strait and is a sanctuary for native animals and the human
         Island—                    spirit.
        offshore                    Kapiti Island has an area of 1965 hectares and is 521m at its highest point. The island
                                    was largely cleared for farming in the 1800s but has been regenerating into native
        paradise                    bush since 1887 when most of the island was declared a nature reserve. Possums
                                                                                 were eradicated by 1986 and rats in
                                                                                 1996, leaving the island free of
                                                                                 mammalian pests. Several species of
                                                                                 endangered animals have been released
                                                                                 over the years to help restore the island
                                                                                 to some of its former ecological status.
                                                                                 It also offers refuge to species that may
                                                                                 otherwise have gone extinct on the
                                                                                 mainland without intervention.

                                                                                     Kapiti Island. Photo: Jeremy Rolfe

         Hihi/                      Hihi or stitchbirds have quite the sweet tooth!
                                    Kapiti’s hihi consumed 502 litres of sugar water during the year. Our rangers provided
  stitchbird—                       this supplementary food year-round in an effort to decrease mortality through winter
  birds with a                      months as well as increase breeding success. Sugar water in Perky Pet hummingbird
                                    feeders are placed at feeding stations enclosed in cages designed to exclude tui and
   sweet tooth                      kaka. Feeders are filled every three to four days to ensure a constant supply.
                                    Numbers of hihi have increased for the third consecutive season. The 2003/04
                                    breeding season was very busy indeed with all known adult females attempting to
                                    breed. At least 46 youngsters left the
                                    nest and it is hoped that they will have
                                    young of their own in upcoming years.
                                    Kapiti Island received two newcomers
                                    from Pukaha Mount Bruce in May. A
                                    male and female juvenile hihi were
Motu Moments covers news
   from Kapiti and Mana
                                    released onto the island to increase the
                   Islands.         genetic diversity of the Kapiti
    For more information            population.
     about this newsletter,         DOC wishes to thank Software
      contact Stacy Moore,
                                    Education Associates for their continued
         Kapiti Area office.
  Ph: 04 296 1112; e-mail:          support and Michelle Howard for her
      slmoore@doc.govt.nz           hard work monitoring the birds.                                       Male hihi. Photo:: DOC.
          Self-              Thirty-two kokako were originally
                             translocated to Kaptiti Island between
    sustaining               1991 to establish a viable population.
      kokako                 They came from remnant mainland
                             populations from Little Barrier Island and
                             Mapara Wildlife Reserve and some
                             captive-reared birds came from Mount
                             Bruce National Wildlife Centre.
                             There are at least 200 ha of suitable
                             habitat and the established kokako                    Kokako feeding chicks at the nest. Photo: DOC.

                             population on Kapiti today appears to be self-sustaining. There are currently 13 pairs
             Kokako chick.   of birds which raised at least six young this season.
      Photo: Ian Flux,DOC.

   Kakariki                  Catching 20 red-crowned kakariki for transfer to Matiu/Somes Island was the job of
                             ten volunteers and DOC staff this summer. They caught the birds by setting mist-
  move from                  nets across their regular flight paths. Other birds that flew into the nets were quickly
Kapiti Island                released. After being removed from the mist-net, the kakariki were weighed and their
                             bills measured to determine their sex.
   to Matiu/                                                                The transfer from Kapiti is part of the
       Somes                                                                ongoing ecological restoration on Matiu/
                                                                            Somes. The kakariki population on
                                                                            Kapiti is believed to be in the hundreds
                                                                            and has been increasing since the
                                                                            removal of rats. Kakariki can lay two to
                                                                            three clutches of three or four chicks in
                                                                            a good breeding year.
                                                                                 Volunteers remove a red-crowned parakeet from mist
                                                                                 net. Photo: Stacy Moore.

    Look but                 This summer fishers in the Kapiti Area were reminded by DOC not to fish in the
                             Marine Reserve. Summer holidays are the busiest time and also a time of more
don’t touch—
                             instances of illegal fishing. “Marine reserves are sea sanctuaries in which all marine
        Kapiti               life are protected,” says Ian Cooksley, DOC Kapiti Area Manager. “Although you can’t
                             fish in them, marine reserves are places for people to enjoy and we encourage people
                             to explore them. Swimming, diving, snorkelling, kayaking and boating are allowed.
      Reserve                They give people a chance to see how protection is enhancing the marine life there.”
                             Dave Wrightson, DOC Kapiti Island Field Centre Supervisor, promoted safety and
                             helpful hints about the marine reserve during radio broadcasts. Starting in December
                             and running through March, educational broadcasts covered safety tips, use of correct
                             nautical charts, tide statistics, proper use of anchors in the area, weather information,
                             guidelines about marine markers, and advice on trolling.

                                                                                 Left: Red mullet. Above: Red sea urchin. Photos: DOC.

2                            Motu moments 1 August 2004
   Seaweek—                                             Our amazing marine life – let’s protect it
   marine life                                          Ko te whakamiharo ki nga taonga a Tangaroa, kia pumau te tiaki


                                      Kapiti’s biggest beach clean up and
                                      Seaweek Celebrations were a huge
                                      success. In March, hundreds turned up
                                      to clean up local beaches and even more
DOC seabird expert Peter Moore        helped celebrate the value of the local
points out some highlights of the     marine environment. The local boat
   coast during a Seaweek event.
                                      charter companies offered discounted
             Photo: Stacy Moore.
                                      tours of the marine reserve.
                                      The School Kid’s Massive Sea Week
                                      competition was run by DOC to                        A mad scramble for treasure during the Big Dig.
                                      highlight the theme of this year’s Sea                                          Photo: Stacy Moore.

                                      Week – Our Amazing Marine Life – Let’s Protect It.
                                      The winning students and accompanying teachers cashed in their Seaweek prize with
                                      a special guided excursion. Once on Kapiti Island, students joined Dave Wrightson
                                      on the DOC boat for a guided tour of the marine reserve. They experienced sea life
                                      along the western side of the reserve by viewing fish and seaweed through the
                                      portable underwater camera. A highlight of the boat ride was observing New Zealand
                                      fur seals frolicking on rocks and in the water close to the boat.
                                      Nadine Gibbs, DOC freshwater and marine scientist, gave students a hands-on guided
    Nadine Gibbs gives students a
     hands-on look at marine life.    tour and study of the coastal environment. Students learned the names and importance
             Photo: Stacy Moore.      of marine organisms as they explored the intertidal zones.

           Trekking                   Takahe were thought to be extinct until a remant population was discovered in
                                      Fiordland in 1948. With fewer than 200 birds in the wild, island introductions are
             takahe                   important for the species survival.
                                      On Kapiti some takahe like to take a winter holiday. One pair breeds at their grassland
                                      home at Rangatira (near the interpretive centre). At the end of the breeding season
                                      they take their family to Taepiro (middle of the island, 350 m altitude). This year
                                      they reared one chick and in February trekked again to the slopes of their Taepiro
                                      Greg Moorcroft, DOC ranger, monitored another pair of takahe which raised twins
                                      at the north end of the island.

Takahe at Rangatira, Kapiti Island.
          Photo: Jackie McIntosh.

                                      Motu moments 1 August 2004                                                                        3
    Sign of the                  Several new informational signs are now in place on both Kapiti and Mana Islands.
                                 One sign shows notable lighthouse history while other signs convey information on
         times                   the history of pest eradication on the islands and why protecting the islands from
                                 impacts of pest animals and weeds are so important.
                                 Ways to reduce the risk of pest weeds or animals
                                 arriving on the island include:
                                 • Education about the issue
                                 • Permanent bait stations on the islands
                                 • Annual rodent audits
                                 • Control of weeds when necessary
                                 • All visitors check packs and
                                      equipments for pest weeds or
                                      animals before arriving to the island
                                 • Ensure all fruit pips and vegetable
                                      matter that are brought onto the
                                      islands are taken off

    Threatened                   It’s been a busy year for threatened plant
                                 work on Kapiti Island. All known
         plants                  threatened plant locations have been
        garden                   inspected, some several times. Cuttings
                                 and seeds have been collected and
                                 successfully propagated or germinated.
                                 Several new Hebe elliptica var.
                                 crassifolia sites were discovered.
                                 Thanks to the help of many volunteers
                                                                                    Threatened plant garden. Photo: Stacy Moore.
                                 and Island staff, two gardens have been
                                 developed. One garden required the relocation of approximately 4 tonnes of beach
                                 shingle. These gardens include threatened plants and also examples of island flora
                                 that may not be seen on the public tracks.
                                 Although the germination percentage was not high, there was some success with
                                 planting the mistletoe
                                                                            Tupeia antarctica on suitable host trees
                                                                            in the Rangatira area. The seeds were
                                                                            collected from island plants. In the
                                                                            coming season, we hope to collect more
                                                                            seeds and we will also attempt to plant
                                                                            the mistletoe Korthalsella salicornioides
                                                                            on kanuka hosts in the educational
     Threatened plant species.                                              gardens.
         Photos: Stacy Moore.

4                                Motu moments 1 August 2004
           Mana                  Mana Island is a 217 ha scientific reserve which has seen many changes in its colourful
                                 history. An early Sydney merchant, John Bell, brought sheep and cattle to the island
        Island’s                 in the early 1820s. The cattle were used to supply milk and beef to the whaling trade
       colourful                 which had become a fairly large industry in the area. Later John Bell died suddenly.
                                 No planks could be found for a coffin so friends buried him in a rum barrel on the
         history                 Island.
                                 Disease found in some of the sheep on the island in 1978 was sduspected to be
                                 scrapie, so the island was placed under strict quarantine for the next five years. All
                                 stock were removed from the island in 1986 and a year later Mana was named a
                                 scientific reserve. Mice numbers exploded once stock were removed; estimates
                                 suggest 5 million mice were present before they were eradicated. Today a variety of
                                 native plants and animals can be found and new species are being introduced back
                                 to the island as part of an island restoration plan.

      Sardine                    One hundred fairy prion chicks and fifty speckled skinks arrived on Mana by
                                 helicopter in January. Five week old fairy prion chicks and adult speckled skinks were
    smoothies                    caught on Takapourewa (Stephens Island) where they are found in substantial
       served                    numbers.
                                   Once on Mana a team of hardy
                                 volunteers braved storms and went
                                 without sleep to ensure the five-week
                                 old chicks, in their cliff-top burrows,
                                 were in top condition to leave their
                                 artificial homes. These surrogate parents
                                 spent endless days collecting, feeding
                                 and weighing the birds. Tins of
                                 Brunswick Canadian sardines and water           Community relations programme manager Stacy Moore
                                 were mixed in a blender to create                       with a fairy prion chick. Photo: Peter Moore.

                                 sardine smoothies. These were fed to the birds through a tube.
                                 All chicks successfully fledged and it is hoped that they will return in 3–5 years time
       The makings of sardine
                                 to make Mana their home and establish a breeding colony.
smoothies. Photo: Stacy Moore.
                                 The fifty speckled skinks may one day use the seabirds’ burrows for shelter and to
                                 find insects. Speckled skinks hunt during the day and should not compete for food
                                 with the already established McGregors skinks which hunt at night.
                                 The project has been made possible by the efforts of the Friends of Mana Island
                                 (FOMI) that have been supportive of many projects on Mana and is also supported
                                 by Ngati Toa, Ngati Koata and DOC.

               Speckled skink.
            Photo: Rod Morris.

                                 Motu moments 1 August 2004                                                                         5
            move to

  Left: Stacy Moore gets up close
 and personal with a flax weevil.
              Photo: Simon Smith.
Right: Yellow-crowned parakeet.
                     Photo: DOC.

                                        Twenty-six yellow-crowned parakeets and 80 flax weevils are adjusting to their new
                                        homes after being released on Mana on 12 May. Members of Friends of Mana Island
                                        (FOMI), Ngati Kuia, Ngati Toa and DOC worked stealthily both night and day to
                                        capture their quarry from Chetwodes and Maud Islands.
                                        Nearly invisible mist nets were used to trap both male and female parakeets on the
                                        Chetwodes. Birds were held in a temporary aviary before being placed in wooden
                                        carrying cases for their helicopter flight to Mana.
                                        Ngati Toa representative, Tama Coker, blessed the parakeets as they flew out of their
                                        boxes into the surrounding scrub. The manuka forest soon came alive with the
                                        chirping sounds of the new arrivals.
                                        Humans became nocturnal on Maud as they searched the island for the large flightless
                                        flax weevils. Adult weevils retreat deep into the base of flax bushes during the day
                                        making them nearly impossible to find. When seen at night under torch light, the
                                        weevils become motionless. If the flax leaves are disturbed then the weevils drop to
                                        the ground making them difficult to find.

    Left: Jason Christenson reaches
     into a carrying case for a bird.
     Right: Ian Cooksley releases a
               Photos: Stacy Moore.

Revegetation                            This year sees the beginning of the next stage of planting on Mana Island after almost
                                        20 years of effort by thousands of volunteers. Mr Brian Paget, President of Friends of
     on Mana                            Mana Island, explains: “Earlier plantings consisted primarily of pioneer species such
Island enters                           as ngaio, tree daises, and manuka. This year we will focus more on phase two
                                        plantings which include canopy trees such as kahikatea, kohekohe, and kaikomako.”
   new phase                            The newly planted trees will benefit from the shelter provided by the existing plants.
 To assist, ring Brian Paget
 ph. 04 472 4827 or e-mail:
                                        This year some 15,000 trees will be planted by FOMI volunteers over the period from
contactus@manaisland.org.nz             May to July. Anyone interested in assisting can ring Brian Paget (04 472 4827).

6                                       Motu moments 1 August 2004
 Worth their                Southern right whale sightings are worth their weight in gold. This mammoth yet
                            elusive marine mammal is listed as nationally endangered and DOC is asking for the
  weight in                 public’s help in recording sightings of these whales.
       gold!                Southern right whales once kept colonists awake at night with their noisy mating
                            antics during the 1880s. However their population was decimated by whalers.
                            DOC is seeking sightings so it can confirm historic data against its record of known
                            individuals. Anyone who sees a southern right whale is asked to immediately phone
                            0800 DOCHOTline (0800 362 468), available 24 hours. DOC would like to know the
                            date, time and location of the sighting; the number of whales and whether there are
                            any calves; and the direction they were travelling.
                            Adult whales are 14–15m long on average and calves between 4.5 and 6m. They are
                            mostly black in colour and can be identified by their V-shaped blowhole spray, white
                            growths on their heads called callosities, and their lack of a dorsal fin.

    Southern right whale.
      Photo: Rob Suisted.

       Mana’s               There are currently 31 takahe on Mana Island consisting of six breeding pairs plus
       takahe               one family group of five adults. There are four chicks which are now over six months
                            old. Takahe were fed supplementary food pellets at the start of the summer to assist
                            them with their breeding success.

Staff profiles              Dave Wrightson lives on Kapiti Island with his partner Jackie McIntosh and their son,
                            Yuri. Dave and Jackie were previously fisheries observers before coming to Kapiti
                            Island in 2001. Dave is the field centre supervisor for the island and conducts marine
                            reserve patrols and day to day activities. Jackie is building and maintaining the
                            threatened plants garden and she also gives interpretive lectures to visiting public.
                            Greg Moorcroft and his partner Michelle Howard also live on Kapiti Island. They both
                            have special interest in species work and have done contract work for DOC for many
                            years. Greg is the Kapiti Island Ranger and is involved with species work on the island
                            as well as regular maintenance of the island infrastructure.
                            Troy Makan did kokako contract work on the island this past summer.
                            Jason Christensen has worked on Mana as the Field Centre Supervisor for 10 years.
                            He is resonsible for all day to day activities on Mana and has particularly strong
                            relationships with Friends of Mana Island.
                            Tony Henry has been a long term contractor with DOC as well as on projects overseas.
                            We welcome Tony to his new position of ranger on Mana.
                            Ngio Mana has also been a long-term contractor with DOC on both Mana and the
                            Chatham Islands. He has an ongoing association with the boxthorn team and is
                            currently their supervisor.
                            Kate Morgan and Paul Boyd are part of the fabulous boxthorn team and Rex Williams
                            is the planting survey assistant.

                            Motu moments 1 August 2004                                                           7
                                  ISLANDS AS ECOLOGICAL RESERVES

                                  The idea of island reserves to protect rare birds was first suggested in the 1870s,
                                  but by the time the first were established, 20 years later, many birds had already
                                  become extinct. DOC aims to restore species within their ecosystems as part of
      For more information        its biodiversity strategy. One way to achieve this is through island restoration.
    about the Department of       Predator-free offshore islands, such as Kapiti and Mana, play a vital role in the
      Conservastion and its       conservation of New Zealand’s biodiversity.
     work, visit our website:
                                  For more information contact: DOC Kapiti Area Office ph 04 296 1112.

8                               Motu moments 1 August 2004

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