Extinct native plant brought back to life

  • 24/10/2015
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says a rare white variant of the red kakabeak, or clianthus, once grew near Wairoa but hasn't been seen in the wild since the 1950s.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says a rare white variant of the red kakabeak, or clianthus, once grew near Wairoa but hasn't been seen in the wild since the 1950s.

A native plant has been brought back from extinction by ground-breaking scientific work.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says a rare white variant of the red kakabeak, or clianthus, once grew near Wairoa but hasn't been seen in the wild since the 1950s.

It was thought to be extinct, until the chance discovery of some seeds that had been taken from the Wairoa area.

Crown Research Institute Scion worked with the Department of Conservation for four years growing seedlings in nurseries.

On Friday about 100 plants were handed over to East Coast iwi Ngati Kohatu and Ngati Hinehika to be planted on ancestral lands.

The area has been fenced off, and Scion and the department will help the iwi ensure they flourish.

"It has been ground-breaking scientific work," Ms Barry said.

"Our New Zealand plants are part of our natural heritage and we must all strive to protect them."

She says the red kakabeak is critically endangered, with only about 100 plants remaining in the wild because of possums, deer, goats and snails.

"Kakabeak is a nectar-rich native flower that attracts birds and I'd encourage more people to grow it in their own gardens."

NZN