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


Planting a school garden may seem far removed from saving endangered birds, but children in Fiordland are confident it will soon have them playing a vital role in takahē conservation.

Date:  20 August 2010

A call for help raising vegetables for takahē chicks from the Department of Conservation (DOC) has met an enthusiastic response from all three schools in the Te Anau Basin as well as Fiordland Kindergarten and Te Anau Childcare and this week the planting began.

Te Anau School and Fiordland College were the first schools to get their gardens underway, planting silverbeet and spinach and sowing carrot seeds in the hope of supplying vegetables to the Burwood Takahē Rearing Unit by early November. Using vegetable seedlings and seeds provided by Mitre10, the school children set about growing food for this season’s takahē chicks.
DOC Burwood Takahē Breeding Unit manager Glen Greaves said the vegetables supplied by Fiordland children were vital for rearing healthy takahē chicks. Chicks are hand fed on a mix of farex and blended vegetables for the first eight weeks of their lives and DOC is unable to grow enough vegetables at Burwood because of a short growing season. Purchasing vegetables from the supermarket risks takahē being fed insecticide or other spray residues said Mr Greaves.
“Takahē are a national icon and Fiordland is the home of takahē conservation,” said Mr Greaves. “We’re delighted the children in our community are prepared to work to help provide healthy food for takahē chicks and in doing so become directly involved in takahē conservation”. 
Mr Greaves said that it was likely DOC would put a callout to the rest of the community during October for anyone with excess spray-free vegetables such as silverbeet and carrots which the school gardens were unable to provide at that time.
A model of a brooder unit showing how takahē chicks are reared and puppet fed will be on display at Te Anau Mitre10 from next week.

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Helen Dodson
Ph: +64 3  249 0240

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