Shore plovers released on Motutapu Island

  • 27/01/2015

Efforts to save a rare native bird got a boost today with the release of flock of them onto an island in the Hauraki Gulf.

It's thought there are less than 200 of the shore plover left.

Nineteen of the critically endangered birds were set free on Motutapu Island, beside Rangitoto, though the biggest challenge is getting them to stay there.

This is the third time in three years a flock has been released onto the pest-free island. The problem is they keep flying away.

Department of Conservation ranger Hazel Speed says of the 42 released previously, only five are still on Motutapu Island.

"The good news is that we do have one breeding pair," says Ms Speed. "There are 63 breeding pairs in the world and we've got one, and she fledged two chicks this year, so it's the start of good things to come."

It's hoped the 19 released today will either nest there or on one of the Hauraki Gulf's other pest-free islands, rather than fly the 5km to Auckland.

"We have to make the effort to bring birds onto islands where they used to live, and also so they can be part of that ecosystem, as part of restoring that ecosystem and saving the species."

The shore plover's Maori name is tuturuatu, and before European pests arrived they were found throughout the country.

"They were, and they still are, now seen as navigational beacons for us, particularly to locate particular sources of seafood," says James Brown, Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki chairman.

Their release onto Motutapu is part of the wider effort to restore the island's native flora and fauna.

"We've now got 19 takahe on the island and I believe we have a chick, and we have 19 kiwi," says Bridget Winstone of the Motutapu Restoration Trust.

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source: newshub archive