The Department of Conservation (DOC) holds fears for the safety of New Zealand’s most endangered indigenous breeding bird, the New Zealand fairy tern (tara-iti) and warns locals and visitors to be mindful of laws protecting these birds.
New Zealand fairy tern and chick
There are only 39 fairy terns, including 12 breeding pairs, remaining and all of them live, and nest, in Wildlife Refuges in Northland (Waipu, Mangawhai, and Pakiri, Papkanui Spit).
“The all-important breeding season has just started and runs until February. This is a particularly vulnerable time for the birds, and with the summer influx of visitors to the area, we are asking locals to remind visitors of the laws, which include no dogs, cats or vehicles on the wildlife refuge and for people to keep their distance from the birds, their nests and their eggs,” says DOC Conservation Services Ranger Vivienne Lepper.
Dedicated DOC Fairy Tern wardens Paulla-Jean Pridham (at Waipu) and Rangi Zimmerman (at Mangawhai) have been fencing nesting sites and preparing nest sites by laying down shell, which the birds like to nest on. The birds then construct nests on exposed, low-lying areas of shell-covered sand. These nests are a simple scrape in the sand, set amidst the shells. Last year 10 fairy tern chicks fledged and a similar success is hoped for this year.
Paulla-Jean and Rangi work a 7-day roster monitoring breeding attempts, maintaining fences around nesting sites, helping with public education, predator trapping and enforcing laws. Volunteers also play a big part in monitoring, trapping and surveillance to assist the wardens
DOC works closely with the NZ Fairy Tern Charitable Trust, About Tern, Ornithiological Society of New Zealand, the Waipu Trapping Group and Te Uri O Hau to help protect the New Zealand fairy tern.
Laws to protect fairy terns and other shorebirds:
- no dogs or vehicles in wildlife refuges and reserves
- disturbance of wildlife is an offence.
How you can help the fairy tern and other shorebirds:
- remind visitors to the area about the by-laws in place
- report offenders to the DOC Hotline (0800 HOT DOC) or to the local wardens
New Zealand fairy tern sitting on nest