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


Today His Excellency Scott Brown, Ambassador of the United States of America to New Zealand visited an iconic island sanctuary to witness the work his Embassy has done supporting seabird recovery.

Date:  18 July 2017

The Ambassador joined Department of Conservation Director General Lou Sanson, Embassy staff, DOC rangers and iwi on predator-free Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, where they were greeted by endangered tahakē, tīeke/saddleback and kākāriki/red crowned parakeet.

Just for the morning, His Excellency swapped consulates for close range conservation, and encountered the North Island weka. These weka are creating a problem on the island, which the US Embassy is helping to solve.

Gail Brown, US Ambassador Scott Brown and Lou Sanson.
Gail Brown, US Ambassador Scott Brown and Director-General
Lou Sanson

Weka on Kapiti Island.
Weka on Kapiti Island.
Photo: Leon Berard

Kapiti Island has been free from mammalian predators for over 20 years and is a haven for native wildlife. North Island weka are doing well in the pest-free reserve but proving problematic for another native species.

“Recently scientists have advised that a remnant tītī/sooty shearwater colony near the island’s wild western cliff tops is under pressure from weka which prey upon eggs and chicks,” explains DOC’s Director General Lou Sanson.

“The Embassy, along with DOC, volunteers and iwi have driven a project to fence part of the colony off from weka to give the tītī a fighting chance at recovery.”

The Ambassador’s visit celebrated not only Kapiti Island, but conservation activities the US Embassy has supported over the past year as part of the 100-year anniversary of the US National Parks service. This included releasing a kiwi into Rimutaka Forest Park.

“The US Embassy have partnered on important conservation work around the country, such as education visits, and interpretation panels about nature and history,” says Lou Sanson.

“Their support showcases our shared values around the importance of nature in people’s wellbeing.”

Ambassador Brown took up his New Zealand posting in June and enjoyed visiting one of the jewels in Wellington’s conservation crown.

“The environment is something I’ve cared about for a long time. I’m proud to learn of all that our Embassy’s partnership has been able to accomplish and I look forward to working with you to share good ideas and good practices for a better future through innovation and international cooperation.”


Lee Barry
Community Ranger, Kapiti Wellington
Phone: +64 4 470 8439

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