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Our special bird fauna – a reminder of what we have on Aotea

A recent Department of Conservation newsletter reported  on “rare native bird found at West Auckland wetland”. 

This bird was discovered at a West Auckland wetland for the first time. The small, secretive ground-living bird, was discovered in a coastal wetland in the upper Waitemata Harbour.

The ‘at risk-declining’ bird was captured on video footage from a camera trap after suspicions that it could be found in the area.  Populations of this bird declined in the 1930s in the Auckland region (and elsewhere) mostly due to habitat destruction like wetland drainage, reclamation and predation from introduced pests. 

Can you guess which bird it is? Yes, it’s the banded rail/moho pereru (Gallirallus philippensis) – a common sight on Aotea/Great Barrier Island!

Auckland Pestival 2017

Auckland Pestival 2017 was organised by Auckland Council, in collaboration with Predator Free New Zealand and the Department of Conservation. The aim of the Pestival was to showcase current community led-conservation and technology trends, and in doing so provide feedback on how Council and the department can support and expand community action.

Presentations provided information and insights to inspire and motivate. Auckland Council announced its programme to make Auckland pest-free by 2050 - by expanding its own action and supporting community and landowner pest eradication and restoration activities. There was a focus on islands and peninsulas, and existing sanctuaries, but also in creating an increasing number of pest-free corridors across the Auckland region.

Presentations from Pestival are available here:

Draft Threatened Species Strategy

The draft Threatened Species Strategy was published by the Department of Conservation in May 2017, with submissions closing in July. The strategy sets out the plan to halt the decline in threatened species and restore them to healthy populations. Building on existing commitments and programmes, the strategy sets out steps to restore the listed species that are already at risk of extinction, and to prevent others from becoming threatened.

The strategy establishes goals for increasing the number of threatened species the department is  working on, and prioritises some threatened and at risk species1 for recovery by 2025.

Of the 150 species listed as a priority, nine occur on Aotea Great Barrier, which is a bigger percentage (about 6%) than any area of equivalent size in the country. In other words, the island has 6% of the most threatened 150 species, but is only 0.1% of the total area of NZ.

Species found on Aotea in the 150 ‘priority threatened and at risk’ list include the bittern , wrybill, kaka, and bar-tailed godwit. The island has eight species in the ‘Nationally vulnerable’, category and seven in the ‘declining’ category.  

Aotea/Great Barrier Island has 27 species of plant in the 'nationally critical to relict’ categories, and 29 'naturally rare' plant species. Other species on the list include the longfin eel, and shortjaw kokapu. Duvaucel’s gecko and long-tailed bats, also found on the island, feature in the draft strategy.  It’s unclear when the final strategy will be released. 



Bittern are globally endangered and listed as nationally critical in New Zealand, where the population is less than 1,000. Photo: DOC


Environmental News Issue 38 Spring/Summer 2017