Tasman Leader : September 11th 2014
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2014 6213176AG TO ENTER 8DAYS I M P R E S S I O N S A R T A W A R D S www.acn.org.nz Art inspires, excites. ENTER! Saddleback join chorus By ALASTAIR PAULIN New home: Renee Thomas from Ngati Rarua Atiawa Iwi Trust photographs her daughter Sophia White, right, and niece Daisy Johnston, both 9, as they release South Island saddleback on Adele Island. Photo: ALASTAIR PAULIN Rare birds’ new home Forty South Island saddleback (tieke) – among the world’s rarest birds – have been released on Adele Island in the Abel Tasman National Park. The saddleback came close to extinction in the 1960s and today there are about 650, all on island sanctuaries. The bird belongs to an ancient group that includes the endang- ered kokako and extinct huia. The release marked a major milestone for the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, which has been working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to make the island a predator-free sanctuary since its formation in 2007. Before the 50 guests at last Friday’s release of the first 28 birds stepped on to the island, DOC’s Martin Rodd asked every- one on board the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle boat Crusader to be quiet so they could hear the birdsong on the island. He said it was the last time it would sound like that as the saddleback would be adding its song to the chorus. The birds had been captured from a population of about 300 on Motoroa Island in the Marlbor- ough Sounds by a team of six. They used mist nets and recorded birdsong to trap the birds, who were then flown to Adele Island by a donated helicopter with Riwaka pilot Andrew Gillatt also donating his time. When their boxes were opened, the birds, which resemble tui with a distinctive orange ‘‘saddle’’ on their backs, immediately flew into the bush canopy and their pierc- ing call could soon be heard. Birdsong Trust volunteer Tom Horn said about half the birds were male and half female, and half of both sexes were young ‘‘jack’’ birds which did not yet dis- play the saddle marking. After conservation minister Nick Smith released the first of the birds, he said the trust was being given a $60,000 government Community Conservation Part- nership Fund grant to help bring the saddleback to Adele Island and help complete its programme to remove wilding pines from the Abel Tasman National Park. The saddleback project also attracted a separate grant of $7500. Trust chairman Kim McGlashen said having saddleback on Adele Island had been on the trust’s wish list for five years and it was the ‘‘icing on the cake’’ for the volunteers who had spent thousands of hours checking traps, disposing of stink- ing carcasses and resetting traps. The trust, a partnership between the community, park tourism operators and DOC, maintains a predator monitoring and trapping network on the island. It also has trap lines on the park coast to stop predators swimming to the island, just 800m from the coast, and nearby predator-free Fisherman Island. Joy Shorrock from Te Atiawa said it was a significant time for the island and manawhenua. ‘‘The Ngati Rarua and Te Atiawa whanau, hapu and iwi of Motueka are honoured to be able to accept the koha of tieke (saddleback) for Motu Areroroa (Adele Island) from our whanan- unga Te Atiawa in Waikawa from Motuara Island in the Marlbor- ough Sounds. ‘‘As kaitiaki of this Rohe we will ensure these taonga are cared for and respected,’’ she said.
September 4th 2014