Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


The road to recovery for the critically endangered takahē just got a little easier. At least 21 chicks hatched on predator free island sanctuaries.

Date:  23 February 2010

The road to recovery for the critically endangered takahē just got a little easier with a record number of chicks born on the islands this summer. 

At least 21 chicks hatched on predator free island sanctuaries and, for the first time, the small mainland population on Maungatautari Ecological Island, Waikato, produced a chick.

Takahē chick. Click image to view larger (JPG, 50K).
Takahē chick (view larger, JPG 50K)

The increased numbers are a result of Mitre 10’s sponsorship and the work done to increase the number of functional breeding pairs at the various sites, takahē recovery manager Phil Tisch says.

To prevent over crowding on the islands, eight chicks will soon be winging their way to the Department of Conservation’s Burwood Bush Takahē Rearing Unit, near Te Anau, Southland, to be matched with the unit’s breeding pairs.

Their March arrival, combined with the 12 chicks already at Burwood, will be the largest number of young takahē the unit has cared for during a breeding season.

“The capacity to hold this many chicks over winter has been made possible thanks to Mitre 10’s continued commitment to the programme,” Mr Tisch says.

Since the sponsorship started in 2005, the company has supported bird transfers, helped increase the unit’s breeding pens and assisted in the modernising of the facility.

“Mitre 10’s Takahē Rescue sponsorship has made a real difference to the survival of this rare and very special bird.”

Mr Tisch says the transfer of the chicks from the islands to the rearing unit is an important step towards releasing them into wild.

A takahē chick is fed by hand-puppet. Click image to view larger (JPG, 115K).
A takahē chick is fed by hand-puppet
(view larger, JPG, 115K)

“Their time here allows them to be trained by the other birds to feed from tussock and get used to the colder temperatures down here.”

He says the islands’ breeding pairs are a vital part of the recovery programme as they act as insurance populations in case something goes wrong in the wild.

Once the chicks are nearly a year-old, they will be released into an extensively trapped area in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland National Park.

It’s estimated that there are about 100 birds in the Murchison Mountains with the remainder on Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds, Mana and Kapiti Islands north of Wellington, Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf northeast of Auckland, and on Maungatautari Ecological Island, Waikato.

Additional information about takahē and the Mitre 10 sponsorship programme

  • Takahē transfers are used to manage the genetics on the islands and try to prevent in-breeding and over-crowding.
  • Keeping numbers at the optimal level on the islands helps breeding. If a bird can’t get a territory, it can’t breed, and it will fight for a territory.
  • In November 2009, 16 juvenile takahē were released into an extensively trapped area of the Murchison Mountains thanks to the support from Mitre 10. The release provided a 10-15% boost to that population.
  • The Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue sponsorship started in September 2005 and was re-signed for a further three years in September 2008. 
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