BandedRail(Meaweka, Gallirallusphillippensis)

Kundy Island (19 ha, off SW Stewart Island). Reintroduction. 13 birds from Pohowaitai Island released March 1999. Part of island’s restoration, following removal of weka in the 1980s. Contact Peter McClelland.


weka reintroductions

North Island weka (photo D. Armstrong), a flightless rail, were widespread throughout the North Island at the turn of the century, but became locally extinct region by region. By the 1950s, the East Cape-Gisborne district was the last stronghold, and weka have continued to persist in the Motu township-Opotiki area in the eastern Bay of Plenty for reasons that are unclear. North Island weka have been the most translocated animal in New Zealand, having undergone 130 translocations from the 1950s up to the early 1980s. Most of these were in response to complaints about weka from crop growers, and few releases were successful at establishing populations. However, translocations over this period resulted in establishment of 3 island popultions (Kawau, Rakitu, Mokoia) and one mainland population (at Rawhiti in Northland) which has now become extinct. Translocations in the 1990s are shown below. There have been no recorded translocations in the 1990s involving the other three races of weka (Western Weka, from the western South Island; Stewart Island, from Stewart Island and surrounding islands; and Buff Weka, originally found in the eastern South Island but now only in the Chatham Islands where they were introduced in 1905). Contact Dave King for information on weka recovery.

Karangahake Gorge (eastern North Island, just south of Coromandel Peninsula). Reintroduction. 101 captive-bred birds released from 1992-1996. The weka suffered a high predation rate, the population is now extinct, and the project has been abandoned. See Graeme & Graeme (1994) and Bramley & Veltman (1998). Contact Ann Graeme.

Pakatoa Island (30 ha, Hauraki Gulf). 34 captive-bred birds released in 1996. Since then the population has fluctuated from 51 to 19 birds as drought has taken its toll. ContactAnn Graeme.

Mokoia Island (135 ha, in Lake Rotorua, North Island). Poison Insurance. 34 birds were temporarily held in captivity, then released back on Mokoia after a brodifacoum poison drop (an unsuccessful attempt to eradicate mice) in September 1996. The operation was designed to insure that weka were not eradicated from the island. They had been reduced to low numbers following a ground poison operation on Mokoia in 1989-90. See Owen 1998a. Contact Keith Owen.

Whanganui Island (286 ha, W of Coromandel township). 32 captive-bred birds released in 1997. Further captive-bred birds released 1998/99. Initially many captive-bred and possibly naive weka were taken by hawks and stoats. Now the stoats have been trapped, trap lines buffer the island from the adjacent mainland and the surviving weka are known to have reared at least two clutches this season (1999/00).

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (225 ha mainland restoration area surrounded by a mammal-proof fence), central Wellington, North Island. Reintroduction. Four pairs of captive-bred weka were held in breeding pens in the Sanctuary between 1998 and 2000 as part of the North Island weka captive breeding programme and juveniles produced by these birds were translocated to Whanganui Island . Once the mammal-proof fence and pest eradication had been completed, the 9 remaining weka (6 males and 3 females) were released into the Sanctuary in June 2000. The reintroduction is part of the restoration program in the sanctuary following eradication of mammals inside the fence (see To reduce potential conflicts with the restoration of other species, the weka are confined to the northern end of the Sanctuary by a temporary fence located just south of the northern lake. Breeding has occurred since birds were released but in the main the weka are shy and not readily observed. Contact Raewyn Empsom.

Russell Peninsula. Reintroduction. Weka were released in August and September 2002. Weka would have been found in this area historically, but have been extirpated from most of the North Island by introduced predators (probably cats, dogs, and mustelids). Predator control is carried out in the area. Weka now appear to have colonised the whole peninsula of ca. 3000 ha.

Abel Tasman National Park (northern tip of South Island). Reintroduction. Weka were reintroduced to Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park when 9 birds from Long Island, Marlborough Sounds, were translocated. Once abundant in the park, they were last seen at Totaranui in 2001. They were kept in an aviary at the release site for one month before release. There is stoat trapping in the area. From Forest & Bird 321: 13.


takahe reintroductions

The takahe (photo D. Armstrong), a large flightless endemic rail, was once presumed extinct, but a population was discovered in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland, in 1948. This population had declined by the 1970s, and subsequent management has kept this population fairly steady at about 120 birds. Captive-reared takahe are produced at the Burwood Captive Rearing Unit and the National Wildlife Centre. These these birds have been used since 1991 to augment the remnant Murchison Mountains population on an annual basis. They have also been used to reintroduce takahe to the Stuart Islands and introduce them to four islands (see below). The islands probably did not have takahe historically (hence the term “introduction”), but provide refuges from introduced mammalian predators.

Stuart Mountains (Fiordland). Reintroduction. 58 captive-reared yearling takahe were released in the western Stuart Mountains, a former part of the takahe’s range to the north of the Murchison Mourtinas, from 1987-92. 22% of these were known to survive their first year in the wild, but the others are unaccounted for. The reintroduction program was stopped in 1993 due to difficulties with monitoring the population and the apparent low number of birds surviving (only four nesting attempst were recorded between 1989-93). One pair and two single birds were found in the area in 2000-01. The following summer only a single bird remained where the pair had been, and it and another single birds were translocated to the core area in the Murchison Mountains.

Tiritiri Matangi Island (220 ha, Hauraki Gulf east of Auckland). Introduction. 2 birds from
Island released 1991, 1 bird from Maud Island released 1992, 1 egg translocated from Maud Island and reared by Tiri males, 1993, 2 birds from Mana Island 1994, 1 bird from Kapiti Island 1994, 3 captive-reared birds 1994, 1 bird from Kapiti Island 1995. While this species was not found on the island historically, the introduction was part of theTiritiri Matangi restoration programme. Contact Barbara Walter, Tiritiri Matangi Island (09 479-4490).

Kapiti Island (1965 ha, off SW of North Island). Introduction. Captive-reared birds from National Wildlife Centre released 1991.

Mana Island (217 ha, off SW of North Island). Introduction. Captive-reared birds from National Wildlife Centre released 1991.

Maud Island (309 ha, Marlborough Sounds). Introduction.

Maungatautari (3400 ha mainland restoration area surrounded by a mammal-proof fence), Waikato, North Island.Introduction. Two takahe had been released as of December 2007, and the plan is to have about 5 pairs on the mountain. Takahe were not found on the North Island historically, but the rationale for the introduction is that they are the closest analogue to the extinct North Island takahe, or moho. The takahe are contained within a separately-fenced wetland site, and have had 4 breeding attempts over the last 2 seasons. The most recent attempt (their second this season) finally resulted in a fertile egg, but unfortunately the chick died in the shell shortly before hatching. Contact Chris Smuts-Kennedy.

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