Endangered Native Birds – Kokako
Having been brought up in a remote farming centre in Upper Takaka, Golden Bay, I have had a life-long interest in our native birds and the bush where they live. Therefore when I came across an article in the August 2005 FMC Bulletin on the work of volunteers from the Howick Tramping Club helping to save the Kokako in the northern Pureora Forest, I decided it was about time I saw these birds for myself, especially after listening to their haunting call on the [[http://www.radionz.co.nz/nr/home|National Programme’s]] Morning Report many times over the years.
After numerous phone calls to DoC, and receiving several posts of written material from them, I found there seemed to be two main Kokako locations – Pureora Forest Park, and Rangitoto Station Reserve, east of Otorohanga. Rangitoto Station, belonging to the [[http://www.nznfrt.org.nz/|New Zealand Native Forests Restoration Trust]], seemed to be the best choice, especially as I could join with the Howick Tramping Club on one of their monthly trips to the Station. These were the people who had for a number of years maintained and serviced rat bait stations, and had the local knowledge of the area.
On Friday 4 November we set out for Rangitoto Station Reserve, pampering ourselves with a swim in the hot pool at Tokaanu, then on to Otorohanga via Taumarunui. First we visited the Kiwi Park to see “Bianca”, a captive bred Kokako now residing in an aviary there. We were enthralled to hear his wonderful call. The drive into Rangitoto Station was “exciting” as the access is a 12 km farm track deep into the hill country. Luckily the track had recently been maintained. We arrived at the Station homestead, a 70s Lockwood, and were welcomed by the early arrivals of the HTC. Other members trickled in during the evening, together with helpers from the Pukekohe Tramping Club, making 28 in total.
On Saturday morning groups went out in various directions, to replenish rat bait stations, and set up monitoring tunnels. I had my trusty chainsaw, and set out with an HTC member to clear windfalls from access tracks. At midday we met a baiting party and joined them for lunch. While taking this break we heard at least two Kokako calling high in the forest canopy. Back at the homestead two of our TTC members reported they had actually seen a pair of Kokako and heard their calls. We were the lucky ones this time.
Dinner on Saturday night was an hilarious affair, although we did see the serious side of this native bird protection business as the HTC discussed DoC’s proposals for Kokako in the area. Rangitoto Station Kokako census records 48 pairs, plus juveniles. Those present believe the numbers to be greater, and new areas where Kokako have been seen are being incorporated into the target area.
On Sunday we inspected the woolshed which is used for overflow accommodation, before we departed. Our discussions in the car travelling home centred on the dedication and commitment of the members of the Howick Tramping Club to making Rangitoto Station pest free, and also the sense of purpose for the time spent in the bush the previous day. Our congratulations and thanks go to the HTC.
- Jenny Lewis, Diane Head, Robyn Hills, Lindsay Cameron (scribe).