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Weka have a safe haven

After months of negotiations, a permit was finally issued to release wekas on Pakatoa Island.

We were met at the Maraetai Wharf by the owners of the island in their boat and 29 birds were loaded on board. The sea was rough and unloading at Pakatoa was difficult, but this was carried out without mishap.

Some birds that joined us at Maraetai had been flown from Napier that morning and had to be sexed and banded before being released. This was done before the birds were released near the main resort buildings.

After lunch, we loaded the other birds into a trailer and we were pulled by tractor to the high, southerly tip of the island, on the golf course, and here, in a force eight gale, we proceeded to weigh and record the weights of each bird and release them into long grass on the top of a scrubby cliff, overlooking a large dam.

We were most impressed as to the suitability of the island for wekas and are certain that they have good chances of survival. It is not intended that any more birds will be released here as the island is too small to accommodate a large population.

We had been warned that the trip back to Maraetai would be very rough, and it was! Our adventures weren't over when we got there as the tide had gone out so far we couldn't reach the wharf. A small dinghy was called for and we were ferried ashore by relay.

There are now no wekas at Karangahake. The project is in DOC's hands, while our aviaries will continue to be used to gather wekas together, just prior to a safe release site.

This is the last "Weka Watch" column. I do thank the many people who have expressed interest in it.