Department of Conservation,
Kapiti Area, P.O. Box 141,
Issue 3, July 2006
April Fools Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) kids got a special treat on April Fools
Day treat Day with a visit to Mana Island. Sixteen Forest and Birds kids ages 4–12
and fifteen parents from the Wellington and Kapiti region spent the day
exploring the natural flora and fauna of the island. The group enjoyed a
welcoming talk by Hugh Gardiner upon arrival where they learned about
conservation efforts on Mana.
KCC kids and island staff walked to
the north-east area of the island where
they removed nova coil (which is used
to protect young plants from pukeko
damage). Students were thrilled to
see wëtä, skinks and geckos hiding
among the plantings.
Later the group explored the historic
woolshed and were most interested
in the shed lizard skins on the
woodwork. The children finished the
day with a beach clean-up along the
shoreline where they picked up 6–7
Kiwi Conservation Kids
lend a helping hand on
rubbish bags full of items such as
Mana. old gloves, beer cans, fish netting
Photo: Craig Thomson. and a plethora of plastic items.
Mana Island Similar to a scene in a sheep dog trial show, DOC staff and Massey
takahë University volunteers carefully shepherded takahë into a net pen where
the birds were checked for overall health status and blood samples taken
roundup for health screening. Twenty of the 41 birds on the island were captured
and this year’s chicks banded.
This year three Mana takahë will be transferred to Maud, Tiritiri Matangi
and Maungatautari Islands while Mana will gain one new takahë from Maud.
These exchanges will increase the
genetic mixing between the islands.
“There are an estimated 313 takahë
left in the world,” says Dr Kerri-
Anne Edge, Takahë Recovery Group
Leader with DOC. “Ninety-six of these
birds live on predatory free islands
around New Zealand and each year
DOC staff and Massey
we move some of these between the
University volunteers check
the health of takahë.
islands to prevent closely related
Photo: Jason Christensen. birds from mating.”
A helping Last year before the breeding season, Friends of Mana Island (FOMI)
hand for volunteers spent several days cleaning käkäriki nest boxes on Mana Island.
Yellow-crowned parakeets were reintroduced to the island in May 2004 as
Mana Island part of an ecological restoration initiative. Wooden nest boxes placed in
käkäriki trees throughout the bush provide secure nesting areas for the käkäriki. Each
year the boxes are cleaned and records made of any nesting attempts.
Sharyn Gunn, volunteer with Friends of Mana Island, noted several käkäriki
flying through the tree tops. “It is an incredible experience to hear the
birds calling from the tops of trees in areas that were silent not long
ago. The käkäriki appear to be doing very well.”
Volunteers found that most of the nesting boxes contained starling nests
but no eggs. All starling nests were discarded to allow the käkäriki to
nest. Other things found in the nest boxes included a forgotten notebook
Yellow-crowned käkäriki. and pencil, tree wëtä, geckos and a family of bumble bees.
Photo: R. Veitch / DOC Volunteers placed a handful of wood chips into nest boxes to provide
material for the käkäriki to lay their eggs on.
A few pairs laid eggs in the wooden nest boxes as well as in holes in
macrocarpa trees and one pair nested in a kingfisher’s burrow in the
ground. Käkäriki numbers on Mana appear to be increasing; survival of
adults and young is high.
New Sardine smoothies and lots of human devotion will hopefully pay off for
residents on the latest sea bird species tricking them into believing Mana Island is
Fluttering shearwater chicks hand raised by volunteers on the island during
By Sue Galbraith
January and February fattened up nicely and flew out to sea, hopefully
to return to Mana Island to breed in the next five or six years.
Forty of the sea birds were captured as nearly fully grown chicks from
Long Island in the Marlborough Sounds in January and flown by helicopter
to Mana Island where they were placed into artificial borrows and fed
tinned sardines blended with oil land water until they were ready to
fledge. It’s part of a plan by the Department of Conservation and Friends
of Mana Island (FOMI) to restore the island’s ecology.
DOC contractor, Helen Gummer, says one of the chicks died and another
10 unexpectedly left the island within days of the transfer, which may
Lynn Adams holds a compromise their chances of survival.
fluttering shearwater on
Long Island. Fluttering shearwaters are the third sea bird species being transferred by
Photo: Dick Gill DOC and FOMI from Marlborough Sounds to Mana Island. Diving petrels
transferred to the island during
1997–99 have begun breeding there,
and fairly prions transferred during
2002–2004 are starting to return.
This is the second ever transfer of
fluttering shearwaters to an offshore
island. A colony was also successfully
re-established on Maud Island in the
The project is being funded by FOMI
through grants and donations, with
support from Te Atiawa and Ngäti
Toa. Up to 200 more birds will
be taken to Mana Island over the
following two to three years.
2 Motu moments 3 July 2006
Weeding On-going duties on Mana include ridding the island of the pest weed
projects boxthorn. Last year most big plants were sprayed using a helicopter.
Currently contract staff is searching all the accessible cliff areas for re-
continue growth, using loppers to cut the weed close to the ground and applying
herbicide to the stump.
In addition, Tony Henry, ranger
Mana Island, has started a five year
programme eradicating kikuyu grass.
There are several sites on the island
that are now fenced to keep takahë
out of the sprayed zones. All sites
have been sprayed once with the
selective herbicide Gallant and staff
have seen good results. All sites were
re-sprayed in May with a follow-up
check and possible re-spraying again
in spring or early summer.
Minister of The Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, recently learned first hand
Conservation about conservation efforts on Mana through a guided visit to the island.
After a smooth boat ride over in the Department’s vessel, politicians, DOC
examines the staff and media were greeted by takahë. Mana Island enjoys the second
“rebirth of largest population of takahë. Island staff maintain one-third of the island
Mana Island” as grasslands which provides food for the endangered rail.
Hugh Gardiner, Field Centre supervisor,
explained the history of the island and
conservation efforts to the entourage.
Mana was farmed until 1985 and
declared a scientific reserve in 1987.
It is slowly being transformed back
to some of its former beauty through
the combined efforts of DOC staff,
Friends of Mana Island volunteers,
and representatives of Ngäti Toa.
Over 400,000 trees have been planted
on the island with further plantings
starting at the end of May by FOMI
volunteers and DOC staff. FOMI
volunteers will continue planting
some cover species such as taupata,
mähoe, ngaio, flax, and wharangi as
well as second successional species
such as kohekohe, tawa, rimu, mataï, and miro to eventually recreate a
network on the island consisting of grassland, shrub land and forest.
Chris Carter enjoyed the views from the highest point of the island
where there still remains the foundation of the old lighthouse which was
erected in 1863 and first lit in 1865. Its light graced the water around
Mana until 1877 when the lighthouse was shipped to Cape Egmont.
Since the eradication of mice in 1991 and after several species transfers,
the island has become a haven for native species such as brown teal,
flax weevils, diving petrels, fairy prions, McGregor’s skinks, green geckos
and most recently fluttering shearwaters. The Minister was impressed
with conservation efforts under way and expressed his appreciation of
the efforts by FOMI volunteers, sponsors and DOC staff.
Motu moments 3 July 2006 3
Endangered The North Island population of
weevils’ new speargrass weevil are living a precarious
existence along Wellington’s south
lease on life coast but it is hoped several will
thrive in their new home on Mana
Seven weevils were taken to Mana
One of the speargrass
Island and there are plans to move
weevils that were an additional 30 more. Mana has
transferred to Mana Island. an abundance of speargrass which
Photo: Andrew Morrison. this flightless weevil depends on
for survival. They live and fed exclusively on speargrass where the adults
feed on the leaves and shelter in leaf litter under the plant while the
larvae live in the soil and feed on the plant roots.
Andrew Morrison, DOC Poneke biodiversity ranger, hopes they will
establish a self sustaining population so the Wellington region would
not lose what is probably their most rare and endangered native animal.
“These amazing creatures are under threat from habitat modification and
introduced mammals such as mice and rats,” said Andrew.
Friends of Mana Island have spearheaded the project with over $1000 in
funding and volunteer support towards the weevil transfer. Brian Paget,
president of FOMI is pleased with the transfer and the chance to offer
a new haven for this rare and wonderful coastal species.
New takahë DOC is taking steps to educate visitors to Kapiti about the life history
signs for and management of takahë on the island. Three large informational panels
are soon to be erected at the North end where visitors can read about
north end these special birds as well as possibly see live ones in the area.
of Kapiti The first takahë were welcomed to Kapiti Island in 1968. The birds soon
Island adapted to the island and before long started raising chicks. Takahë breed
once a season, laying an average of two eggs which hatch in about 30
days. Usually only one chick survives to adulthood. The chicks eat insects
early on then later switch to vegetation.
In prehistoric times, takahë were
found throughout much of New
Zealand. By the end of the 19th
century they were feared extinct
because of habitat loss and predation
by introduced pests such as stoats
Pest free islands such as Kapiti are an
important haven for endangered birds
like the takahë. DOC staff regularly
monitor the island for any sign of
introduced rodents and have a robust
contingency plan in place in case
any pest arrive on the island.
The takahë information signs for the north end
of Kapiti Island.
4 Motu moments 3 July 2006
Teachers Twenty Kapiti Coast teachers explored
NEW KAPITI ISLAND /
bring Kapiti Kapiti Island and scoured its coastal
shores in preparation to bringing MARINE RESERVE
Island to the scientific information and conservation EDUCATION KIT
classroom messages to their classrooms.
Stacy Moore, DOC Waikanae, organised The new Kapiti Island / Marine Reserve
the training workshop in which Education kit is now complete and in
teachers investigated the new Kapiti local classrooms! The kit offers “one
Island / Marine Reserve educational stop shopping” for teachers or groups,
resources produced by DOC. and contains colourful posters, DVDs,
videos, species cards, a myriad of books,
and lesson plans that are linked to
curriculum objectives. All lessons include
aspects of “about, in, and for” the
environment and specifically connect
students to Kapiti Island and the Marine
Reserve. To assist students in gaining
maximum learning, the kit includes
pre-field, field and post-field activities.
Not all classes are able to get to the
island or enjoy the marine reserve so
the kit covers activities that students
can enjoy in their classroom.
Tom Graham and Anna Upon arrival at Kapiti, teachers The resource is housed at the Kapiti
Turner from Paraparaumu listened to the public talk which Area Office and is available to the
College, and Anna introduced them to the history of public free of charge.
Montgomery from Kapiti
the island, rules for visitors, and
College, view wildlife on Contact Stacy Moore at 04-296 1161
information about plant and animal
the Kapiti Island teacher or firstname.lastname@example.org
tour. Photo: Stacy Moore. species and recent reintroductions
of endangered birds.
Teachers then delved into the kit which contains books, posters, DVDs, and
lesson plans which tie in directly to curriculum standards. The resource
covers subjects such as life history of plants and animals on the island
and marine reserve, maths, and conservation issues.
During a guided walk along the rocky shore, grassland and up into the
regenerating bush, the teachers learned about specific lessons they could
conduct with students. Evan Goodwin, Principal of Raumati South School,
said, “A teacher resource such as this is long overdue—I have never seen
anything like this and am sure it is going to get a lot of use.”
Young and Families from Kapiti Mana Forest and Bird Kiwi Conservation Club were
old revel at overwhelmed with the bird life on Kapiti Island during a recent trip to
the reserve. Old and young alike explored the lowlands before heading up
the bird life the Trig Track were they admired hihi at the feeding stations, saddlebacks
on Kapiti in the undergrowth and käkäriki flying overhead.
Island Before heading home the KCC
students conducted a beach clean-
up and picked up items such as
paint buckets, a soccer ball, plastic
gloves and old fishing gear. “On
the way home we were treated to
Sharyn Gunn teaches Forest
viewing shearwaters and a little
and Bird KCC members blue penguin,” commented Forest
about whales. and Bird member Sharyn Gunn.
Photo: Maurice Andrews.
Motu moments 3 July 2006 5
Kapiti’s Nearly 1000 people enjoyed fun and educational activities during the Kapiti
Seaweek Coast’s Marvellous Marine Day—part of national Seaweek activities.
honours The public were introduced by DOC’s Nadine Gibbs, Danica Devery-Smith
and Ann McCrone to creatures that live in or near Kapiti Marine Reserve on
Kapiti Marine guided boat trips with Kapiti Tours. They introduced visitors to the plants
Reserve and animals that call the ocean home and talked about the importance
of marine reserves. People handled various marine exhibits on the boat,
such as frozen sea birds and samples of whale baleen.
Students from the Kapiti area
embraced this year’s theme of “One
Ocean,” and turned the message into
artwork and creative pieces. Entries
included PowerPoint shows showing
the life of albatrosses, a movie, and
Visitors on a guided boat dioramas depicting the ocean floor
tour of Kapiti Marine
and sea creatures as well as an oil
Photo: Sharyn Gunn. tanker spilling oil. Several schools
entered posters draped with seashells and depicting messages such as
‘Protect Our Seas!” Raumati South School teacher, Steve Aiken said, “The
students had great fun making their Seaweek entries and they learned
a lot about the marine environment along the way.” Kapiti College art
teacher, Anna Montgomery was impressed with her students’ efforts. “We
have incorporated Seaweek into our curriculum and the students really
look forward to doing marine theme art pieces,” she said.
Students Winners of this year’s Seaweek kids’ art competition recently cashed in
explore their winning prize—a special DOC-sponsored day exploring marine and
terrestrial habitats on Kapiti Island. The Minister of Conservation heard
nature’s about the stunning Seaweek artwork that the students completed and sent
classroom signed certificates to the schools to be given to winning students.
Students from Raumati South School, Kapiti College, and Reikorangi Christian
College learned about conservation efforts on Kapiti Island through an
introductory talk upon arrival to the island. Gathering around an ancient
whale pot, students examined pieces
of baleen and talked about historic
whaling in the area.
A biodiversity scavenger hunt was
a highlight for many students as
Raumati South Students:
Vanessa Duffell, Georgia
they fossicked amongst the kelp and
Hutcheon, and Abbey rocky shores looking for a variety of
Welch examine whale marine creatures such as limpets, sea
baleen. Photo: Stacy Moore. anemones, crabs and sand hoppers.
Students discussed ways in which these animals are adapted to living in
harsh marine environments.
Following lunch students experienced the Kapiti Marine Reserve first hand
through a guided trip in the DOC boat piloted by ranger Dave Wrightson.
Becci Luke exclaimed, “The boat trip was really exciting because we
went over bumps and saw a little blue penguin!”
Several students concluded the day by snorkelling in the marine reserve.
For Kody Stuart it was the first time she had ever been snorkelling, “It
was cold but awesome—really worth doing!”
Stacy Moore, DOC community relations Kapiti Area Office, was impressed
with the number of students who participated in Seaweek and the quality
of their artwork. “I always enjoy taking students out into nature where they
can learn first hand about the importance of our marine environment.”
6 Motu moments 3 July 2006
More bats Three more short-tailed bats were
released released onto Kapiti Island earlier
this year. They joined bats transferred
onto Kapiti last year in a ground-breaking project
Island to save from possible extinction a
By Sue Galbraith colony of bats in the Tararua Range.
There are now at least a dozen short-
Short-tailed bat. tailed bats on Kapiti Island.
Photo: Brian Lloyd / DOC. Over three years, pregnant bats are
being taken from the Tararua Forest Park to Pukaha Mount Bruce to give
birth. When they are old enough to start flying, the pups are then taken
to Kapiti Island and their mums returned to Tararua Forest Park.
The most recent release suffered a set back when eight of the 14 pups
born in January at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre died
after being bitten by an aggressive adult. At least nine of the original 20
pups transferred to Kapiti Island last year are known to still be there.
They were successfully treated for a condition causing scabs on their
ears and still return to the aviary to roost.
A warm fleece hung on the wall of the enclosure offers them a snug place
to roost during the day. Island staff have 20 containers of meal worms
at hand to feed the bats. Extra nutrients are added to the meal worms
and are fed to the young bats each day along with honey water.
The results of the project look encouraging to date despite the loss
of some pups, which also occurs in the wild. As well as establishing
a new population, it has provided an opportunity to further develop
bat husbandry and transfer techniques that will benefit bat conservation
throughout the world.
Iwi While DOC can take care of the physical aspects and logistics of species
involvement transfers to and from Kapiti and Mana Islands, it is the local iwi who
attend to the animals’ spiritual well being.
Tuki Takiwa of Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai first became involved in
transfers bird transfers on Kapiti in 1996 when several species were taken off the
island to protect them during rat eradication.
Birds are regarded by iwi as taonga—treasures. The birds are given a karakia,
usually by a kaumätua, before leaving one island and again on arrival at
their new home. Jack Rikihana who has been involved in transfers says,
“It is fitting that all the birds receive a blessing to keep them safe on
their journey, as well as welcoming any new species that arrive on Kapiti.”
New Zealand’s unstable weather can make transfers difficult, however. “It
is not always easy to welcome new birds and provide a karakia, as the
weather can make travel precarious at times,’ commented Jack.
In early April, 20 North Island robins were taken from Kapiti Island to Matiu /
Somes as part of the restoration and rejuvenation of that island. They
are expected to thrive there in native vegetation that has been planted
over the years by Forest and Bird
Members of Te Ati Awa ki volunteers. Ian Cooksley, DOC Kapiti
Whakarongotai welcome Area Manager, has been involved
a new takahë on Kapiti
with several species transfers, “An
From left: Dave Wrightson interesting aspect of iwi involvement
and son Yuri, Rodney in species management, including
Moffat, Shaun, Tuki Takiwa, transfers, is that invariably you
Ake Taiaki, Repeka Parata, learn something new each time,”
Photo: Jacqui Mcintosh.
Motu moments 3 July 2006 7
Shelter, The north end of Kapiti Island opened
toilets and to the public on 1 July under a
permit system. A visitor shelter was
track in built by Levin builder Rod Feasey.
place on It was designed by Taupo architect
north end of Fraser Cameron to fit the contours
Kapiti of the island, withstand high winds
and corrosion, and blend in with the
By Sue Galbraith
environment. “We’ve sited it in a
People wanting to visit natural depression to help protect it
Kapiti Island North End form the extreme marine environment
can apply for a permit and make it less obtrusive,” says Kapiti
from the Wellington Area visitor assets programme manager
Conservation Information Wayne Boness.
A 4-km loop track up the Okupe
Phone 04-472 7356.
Valley to a lookout at the ridgetop
offers spectacular views. On clear days
Mount Egmont can be seen to the Jody Gaylord, Peter Moore and John Gaylord
north and views of the lagoon and enjoy the new track at the north end of Kapiti.
the Tararua Range to the east. The Photo: Stacy Moore.
track’s gradient should provide comfortable walking for most visitors.
Hihi Hihi are a vulnerable endemic species with only one natural, self-sustaining
management population on Hauturu (Little Barrier Island). Several transfers to other
islands and mainland reserves have been made over the past 20 years.
DOC and the hihi
The population on Kapiti Island currently requires direct management but
appreciate the continued
support from Software
the long term goal is to establish a self-sustaining population.
Education Associates. Monitoring of Kapiti Island hihi has indicated that it is unlikely they will
survive without direct management until the vegetation composition has
changed sufficiently to support a hihi population year-round.
To maintain the current population and to work towards a self-sustaining
population, DOC hired Ian Price to provide supplementary feeding and
monitor the population, including surveying and banding birds. Ian said
supplementary feeding is necessary because of the lack of natural food available
all year, and competition for the natural food that is available.
During summer Ian maintained 10
feeders which were serviced twice a
week with 30–40 litres of sugar water.
Feeders were regularly cleaned to
prevent the sugar solution fermenting
and to reduce the occurrence and
spread of disease (several of the
Ian Price prepares sugar feeders are serviced throughout
water for hihi. the winter by island rangers, Dave
Photo: Stacy Moore.
Wrightson and Erica Cammack).
Hihi are cavity nesters and breeding success is strongly affected by the
availability and quality of cavities. On Kapiti, hihi prefer natural nest sites
although some nesting attempts are made in nest boxes most years. The
female builds the nest and incubates the 3–5 eggs. Both parents feed the
chicks for 28 to 35 days until they fledge.
For more information Monitoring the population involves pre- and post-breeding surveys and
about the Department of observations, usually at feeders. An important tool for monitoring work is
Conservation and its work, banding individuals with a unique colour combination. The hihi population
visit our website: on Kapiti continues to increase. This year 80 juveniles fledged and the
www.doc.govt.nz population on Kapiti is currently estimated at 190 birds.
8 Motu moments 3 July 2006