There is good news for one of the country's most endangered birds - after almost four decades of conservation work, numbers of the kakī/black stilt have hit a new high.
The total adult population living in the wild is now at 169, up 40 from a year ago, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said on Saturday.
The critically endangered birds are mostly found in the Mackenzie Basin and are considered a taonga species for the Ngāi Tahu iwi.
They are one of the world's rarest wading birds.
"Today’s announcement is a tribute to nearly four decades of protection, research, and intensive management," said Sage.
"Kakī have had a remarkable turnaround since they were on the brink of extinction in 1981, when the adult population declined to a low of just 23 birds."
The rise in numbers follows extensive predator trapping in the area and a successful 2017/2018 breeding season when the Department of Conservation (DoC) released a record 184 juvenile kakī that were raised in captivity.
Due to predators, however, only 67 of those young birds survived until adulthood.
A further 127 birds are currently being cared for by DoC, along with the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, as part of a captive breeding programme.
More young birds will be released into the Godley riverbed in August.