The kiwis are here

The kiwis are hereFrom the Tiritiri Matangi ArchivesEditor: Zane BurdettBulletin No.14Date: August 1993In fact, since the five pairs of little spotted kiwi arrived, they’ve been here, there and everywhere on Tiritiri – exploring what is now their new home. They arrive on the 4th of July – ‘Kiwi Independence Day’. That day, over 500 people; babies, children, teenagers, adults, young and old, officials, sponsors, scientists, reporters and Yamagata whenua  – had waited. They had waited together on a ridge under a great cloudy sky with a cool wind blowing – but the wait was worth it! The was the first public release of the little spotted kiwi. Maybe on this day the number of people in recent history to have seen a living little spotted kiwi in the feather had probably doubled! The kiwis arrive by helicopter at about 3pm accompanied by representatives of Ngtai To a and Te Ottawa, tangata whenua of Kapiti Island, the Minister of Conservation Mr Denis Marshall and DoC staff. They were greeted by representatives of Te Kawerau a Maki, tangata whenua of Tiritiri Matangi. Following speeches by officials and Dell Hood and Mel Galbraith – 4 birds were taken by DoC staff and shown to the gathering. All the birds were taken to their released sites and placed into prepared burrows.  The arrival of the little spotted kiwi on Tiritiri was made…


Pukupuku/little spotted kiwi

Pukupuku/little spotted kiwiAuthor: Jonathan MowerDate: May 2024Header image: John Sibley Island visitor Darren Markin recently captured this footage of a foraging kiwi pukupuku/ little spotted kiwi, while walking one night along Tiritiri Matangi’s Ridge Road. Being nocturnal by nature, footage of active kiwi is relatively uncommon, so his footage is a rare record of kiwi’s feeding behaviour. Kiwi pukupuku/little spotted kiwi are the smallest of the 5 surviving kiwi species, with the larger females averaging 1350g/30cm. Once widespread in both the North and South Islands, human arrival in New Zealand saw them disappear from both islands and the species diminished to only a small population on Kapiti Island, the descendants of a small number translocated there in 1912. Descendents of these survivors were first translocated to Tiritiri Matangi in 1993 when five pairs were transferred from the Okupe Valley, Kapiti Island to Tiritiri Matangi Island on 4 July 1993. Subsequent translocations have boosted their numbers on the island to the point that their calls are regularly heard and, as Darren’s video attests, seen by visitors walking at night. This video is particularly useful in showing how kiwi forage for food. Kiwi use their bill to detect their prey (mostly small invertebrates such as earthworms and insect larvae) and are often observed moving through…


Kōkako Music

Kōkako MusicAuthor: Ran Kampel, Assistant Professor of Clarinet Baylor University School of Music Texas, United States of AmericaDate: April 2024Header Photo Credit: Darren Markin Last month my wife and I attended a guided tour with Bethny Uptegrove on Tiritiri Matangi Island. We loved the beautiful colours of all the birds and enjoyed observing them fly around and interact with each other, but what we found to be the most fascinating was the variety of sounds and the birdcalls we heard during our visit. Above all these birdcalls stood out the remarkable call of the Kōkako. Its intricate call captured our attention from the first moment we heard it! My wife and I are classically trained musicians (flute and clarinet respectively), who played with orchestras all over the world. This pure melodic pattern of the Kōkako call was one of the most beautiful chants we ever heard in nature. Bethny, our guide, shared with us that the call we were listening to is unique to this specific pair of Kōkako who are controlling this exact part of the island. Their call can carry for kilometers and is used to mark their territory. It would only change the moment the male were to lose its dominance to a younger Kōkako. She also shared with us that the call was split between the male and female Kōkakos, but it was very hard for us to differentiate the two and tell…


Copper Rod

Copper RodAuthor: Trevor ScottHeader Photo from the archives, pre 1971Date: March 2024Did you know that lighthouses are often struck by lightning? To prevent damage caused by these strikes, lighthouses are equipped with metal poles called lightning rods. These rods are attached to a thick copper wire that runs from the top of the lighthouse down to the ground. When lightning strikes the tower, it enters through the lightning rod and travels down the wire into the ground, minimizing potential damage. Trevor Scott, who was the lighthouse keeper on Tiritiri Matangi from 1958-1960 and 1966-1969, shared that he remembers seeing the spare left over copper rods used to hang up curtains in the lighthouse keepers house. Trevor Scott has writtenCopper RodUsed for lightning conductor on Tiritiri Lighthouse. This runs under ground from the base of the tower northwards east of the Norfolk pin to the bottom of the gully where a plate of copper is attached and buried in the swamp. In 1958 this and other pieces were under the maracarpa. Also the old house that was on the eastern cliff side had used the left over as curtain rods.  Trevor Scott holding the copper rod that he has gifted to the Tiritiri Matangi MuseumPhoto credit: Talia Hochwimmer The Tiritiri Matangi Lighthouse pre 1971, from the archives The Tiritiri Matangi…


Not your average Tuesday on Tiritiri Matangi – or maybe it is!

Not your average Tuesday on Tiritiri Matangi – or maybe it is!Author: Grant Birley. From his second visit to the Island and his first overnight stay.Photo credit: Grant BirleyDate: 20th March 2024My Tuesday morning on the island started like any other morning on Tiritiri Matangi. Up early to get out into the bush to enjoy the dawn’s chorus – it truly is a sound to behold! Then it was back to the bunkhouse for a quick breakfast and coffee, a little breakfast chat around the table and then off on what was going to be a very busy day! The forecast wasn’t great with predictions of rain coming through but that was not to deter my plans of walking around the entire Island! I started at the Bunkhouse and went up the East Coast Track all the way to the Papakura Pa and then back along the tracks that hugged the Western coastline. While it was a long day, it yielded some great sightings and a few special captures too. I absolutely loved the variation in flora and fauna at different stages along the island.  My photography goals on the island were two fold. Firstly, in the day, to traverse as much of the island in search of the incredible bird and wildlife that call Tiritiri Matangi home and, secondly, to capture and experience the magic of the night that has become synonymous with this island, from the very elusive and incredibly special creatures who wander…


We chatter quietly away and then someone hears the first kōkako calls

We chatter quietly away and then someone hears the first kōkako calls Author and photo credit: Kathryn JonesDate: 10th February 2024It’s 4.30 am, pitch dark, on a morning in early December.  I woke before my alarm went off. Time to start my day. Luckily I am a morning person. I get dressed in my work clothes quickly and quietly, trying to make as little noise as possible so others can continue to sleep. Outside I look up at the moon, the stars, and the lighthouse lights with awe. The team gathers in the bunkhouse kitchen and dining area for a bit of breakfast, and then we each go through our own routine to get ready to go out into the field. Boots, water bottle, binoculars, hand-held radio, pack with snacks and other miscellaneous gear, head torch with red light on. We walk across the grass to the implement shed to sign out and have a safety briefing. It is still dark. We head out to where we are going to look for our first pair of kōkako for the day. Often we head up Coronary Hill and admire the early dawn colours, and then head quickly away. Sometimes, walking along Ridge Rd, ruru fly past you and brush ever so slightly against your arm. We chatter quietly away and then someone hears the-first kōkako calls and we then all listen intently.  We reach the area we are going to be working in, and the team leader organises us into starting positions around…


Spade brigade

Spade brigadePhoto credits: Neil DaviesIt’s inspiring to think about the planting programme that started in 1984 on the island to help restore the native birdlife habitat. It’s impressive that over 10 years 280,000 trees were planted by volunteers, which included thirty different species of trees and shrubs. These volunteers formed the “spade brigade” and used pointed spades to plant seedlings that had germinated in the island’s nursery. It’s great to see people coming together to preserve the natural environment. Thanks to the vision of the Neil Mitchell and John Craig who thought of the idea and to the efforts of the volunteers. The Tiritiri Matangi project changed the way conservation was done in New Zealand. Previously, only a select group of privileged scientists were involved in conservation efforts, which mostly took place in remote areas. However, this project paved the way for community-led-conservation, making it possible for everyone to be involved in conservation. Below are the before and after photos showing the forest growth. View from coronary hill looking north Supporters on their way to the island Lighthouse from Wattle Valley Looking east over Fisherman's Bay……


Tiritiri Matangi: a perfect fit for United Nations environment programme

Tiritiri Matangi: a perfect fit for United Nations environment programmeAuthor: Mel Galbraith (From the Dawn Chorus Archives, 130 August 2022)Date: August 2022Ecological restoration on Tiritiri was well ahead of its time. It has taken initiatives such as the sanctuary to encourage a global declaration that is now being internationally recognised, explains Mel Galbraith. Twelve hours after we collectively chorused Auld Lang Syne to welcome in the 1st January 2021, the United Nations launched a “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration” 2021-2030. Not that you would have noticed; there were no fanfares and I doubt if any of the local firework displays were in recognition of this cause. No doubt the global pandemic was occupying the headlines at the time. And, even as we edge back towards a new more stable “norm”, it is still unlikely that the UN initiative will demand much media recognition. Such is the nature of (positive) environmental news. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 explicitly calls for … Preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide: “The over-arching vision for the UN Decade is a world where – for the health and wellbeing of all life on Earth and that of future generations – the relationship between humans and nature has been restored, where the area of healthy ecosystems is increasing, and where…


The translocation of miromiro to Tiritiri Matangi

Translocation of Miromiro to Tiritiri Matangi April 2004Author:Barbara HughesDate:January 2023Photo credit: Barbara Hughes Over two days in early April 2004, four catching teams in the Hunua Ranges Auckland Council Regional Park area caught 32 miromiro/North Island tomtits, Petroica macrocephala toitoi, for transfer to Tiritiri Matangi. All birds were weighed, banded, individually boxed, and then transported by car to the Helitranz base at Albany from which they were flown by helicopter out to the motu. This was the culmination of over a year of study in the field and many hours habituating the birds with meal worms by a team of Tiritiri Matangi Supporter helpers, and a Massey University international student; co-ordinated by myself. The translocation was overseen by DOC manager Richard Griffiths. The scientific support, advice and capture specialists were Dr Tim Lovegrove (ARC Heritage Department scientist) and Dr Kevin Parker (Reintroduction Biologist). Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi for the study and translocation costings had the financial benefit of Barbara being on a fully funded Royal Society Teacher Fellowship year to carry out the programme. Follow-up monitoring was carried out after the translocation and occasional authentic sightings of banded birds continued up to March 2006. There was no evidence of breeding pairs and the possibility of a…


Titipounamu / Rifleman Survey

Titipounamu / Rifleman SurveyAuthor: Janet Petricevich shares an update, with input from Simon Fordham.(Article taken and reduced from the recent Dawn Chorus magazine)Date: December 2023Tiritiri Matangi Island is a scientific reserve as defined in the Reserves Act 1977. Section 21 of the Act states that ‘The principal purpose of these reserves is the protection and preservation in perpetuity of areas for scientific study, research, education, and the benefit of the country.’ One of these activities is the titipounamu (rifleman) survey which begins in late August or early September and continues to around the end of January. The purpose of this survey is the long-term collection of data about the titipounamu population on the Island. Through this survey, Simon Fordham, with help from his wife Morag and other volunteers, has been collecting data about the longevity and dispersal of these birds. During the initial survey, a team of volunteers walked both the public and research tracks over the Island, listening for the titipounamu’s high-pitched calls. All sightings of the birds are recorded, along with any information about the sighting, e.g. location, number of birds seen and their gender(s), whether they were banded, and any band combinations identified. If weather conditions allow, mist-netting may also take place. This generally targets un-banded…