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Weka stage return

For the first time in nearly 70 years, weka are breeding in, the wild in Karangahake Gorge.

The parent birds are captive-bred weka which have been raised and released by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

"The weka pair can be seen carrying beakfuls of worms into an over-grown woodpile where the chicks must be hidden," said Gary Staples, the Forest and Bird member who looks after the release aviary.

"The birds are usually shy and secretive, so this daytime activity is a clear sign that they have chicks to feed."

North Island weka are a threatened species and the project aims to create a new population of weka from birds bred in captivity.

"We will be releasing more captive-bred birds this year now that we know they can survive and breed.

"Released birds can be heard calling in pairs around the valley, and we hope to confirm more breeding in the wild.

"The next big test will be to see whether the chicks can survive the perils of cats, dogs and stoats, and grow up to form a new, wild population of North Island weka," said Mr Staples.