Home > News > Archive > 21st June 2007

Kaka calling mates to maunga

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
PUKEATUA SCHOOL pupils Hannah Wallace (left) and Conrad McKenzie (right), help Philip Wisker of Wellington Zoo to release the two kaka from the zoo into the aviary on Maungatautari Mountain. Photos by Phil Brown.

Within days of two kaka being released into a large new aviary on Maungatautari, a wild kaka has been seen several times in their vicinity.

Jim Mylchreest, Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust CEO, says the wild bird has been seen close to the aviary, and it could be an indication that other wild kaka may be attracted to the area by the arrival of the new birds.

“The wild one seems to be hanging round the area, so the new birds may already be having a good effect,” he says. “We will be setting up a feeding station close to the aviary in the hope that we can encourage any visiting wild kaka to stay around and help populate the mountain. Just occasionally we get the odd kaka up in the bush there, apparently just passing through on the way to somewhere else.”

The two new birds were released into the purpose-built aviary early last week, and were welcomed by about 50 people, including students from the nearby Pukeatua School. The students will be responsible for feeding the new birds.
The male birds, named Mamaku and Rata, have been specially bred at the Wellington Zoo for Maungatautari, and Mr Mylchreest says the pair have settled in well to the new aviary.

“It’s double the size of their Wellington home, so they’re very happy about it all.”

Within the next month or so, the birds will be joined by another five kaka, including females, from the Auckland Zoo. They will all be held in the aviary for several months, and then half will be released into the wild. Feeding stations will be set up outside the aviary to encourage the released birds to stay in the area, and a few weeks later the other birds will also be released.

Mr Mylchreest says it is hoped the kaka will continue to live in and around the Southern Enclosure of the ecological island, so that they will be seen by some of the growing stream of visitors to the area.

Kaka were once plentiful on the mountain, with thousands of them living in the bush there. But in the past century they have been wiped out by increasing numbers of wild cats, stoats and rats, which raided nests and took eggs and nestlings. None has been resident on the mountain for decades.

Now that the mountain’s 3400 hectares of bush have been ringfenced with the Xcluder pestproof fencing, all predators have been removed from the bush and bird and native plant life is making a major recovery. It is hoped that in the coming spring, the kaka will mate and begin to repopulate the mountain.