Introduction

Peregrine Wines recently toasted the success of their fourth conservation initiative through the Fiordland Conservation Trust and DOC with the transfer of 60 mohua back to Resolution Island, the birthplace of New Zealand conservation.

Peregrine Wines transfer first mohua to Resolution Island. Photo: G Dainty
Peregrine Wines transfer first mohua to Resolution Island

A southern winery is leading the way in growing support for conservation through business.  Peregrine Wines recently toasted the success of their fourth conservation initiative through the Fiordland Conservation Trust and the Department of Conservation with the transfer of 60 mohua/ yellow-head back to Resolution Island, the birthplace of New Zealand conservation.

Peregrine Winery based in Gibbston, Central Otago raised funds for the transfer through the sales of their successful avian branded wines including the Peregrine and Saddleback branded wines. “It seemed the right time to find another very significant project involving these rare birds that we could become involved in”, said Peregrine’s Marketing Director Greg Hay. 

Through a partnership with the Fiordland Conservation Trust, Peregrine got involved with the transfer “not only from a funding perspective but also as active participants in the capture and release of these vibrant little songbirds” said Mr Hay. 

Previous projects from the sales of the Peregrine wines have included transfers of saddleback from Breaksea Island to Chalky Island, Breaksea to Bauza Island in Doubtful Sound as well as the transfer of saddleback from Ulva Island to the recently established Orokinui sanctuary in Otago.

The transfer marks a momentous step in conservation being the first time that native wildlife has been returned to the birthplace of New Zealand conservation.  Resolution Island was declared New Zealand’s first Nature Reserve in 1891 and in the years following caretaker Richard Henry moved hundreds of kiwi and kakapo to the safety of the island, away from the stoats and rats that were devastating the mainland’s wildlife. But with the invasion of stoats to Resolution Island in the early 1900s, Richard Henry abandoned his conservation dreams. 

An ambitious trapping project undertaken by the Department of Conservation over the past three years is helping to restore Resolution Island (20,860 ha) to its former stoat-free status. With a breeding population of stoats no longer present, it is now safe to return endangered or threatened species, such as mohua, to Fiordland’s largest island sanctuary. Due to the size of Resolution Island, it will be able to sustain a mohua population of thousands, making it the largest protected site for mohua in New Zealand.

“This is a significant occasion for all involved, due to the history of Resolution Island and the phenomenal task to get the island back to being safe to reintroduce endangered species”, Roger McNaughton, Fiordland Conservation Trust Chairman.  “This is an example of how the combined efforts of different organisations can make substantial gains to conservation.  Peregrines Wines investment and participation in the mohua transfer is an incredible contribution”.

The mohua were transferred from the Landsborough Valley, near Haast, where numbers have been recovering well since stoat, possum and rat control was established in the valley in 2000 by the Department of Conservation. There are now estimated to be at least a thousand mohua in the valley so transferring 60 to Resolution Island will not affect the Landsborough population.

Mohua are particularly vulnerable to rats and stoats, especially in years of heavy beech flowering as the seeds provide an abundance of food for rats and stoats causing them to reach plague proportions. Large flocks of mohua were once seen throughout the beech forests of the South Island but today only a few remain in small pockets of mainland, or on predator-free islands. Transferring mohua back to Fiordland’s largest island sanctuary will help to secure the future of the species. 

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