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No taiko here: it’s takoketai

For many years now we have been using taiko as the Māori name for the black petrel (Procellaria parkinsoni), a species with its main colony on Hirakimata/Mount Hobson, the highest point on Aotea Great Barrier.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, we’ve picked up the wrong name. Taiko is a word used in the south of New Zealand for other petrels.

Nicola MacDonald of Ngati Rehua Ngatiwai ki Aotea, asked the gathering to begin using the local Aotea name for black petrel, which the old people reminded her of recently.

The tika name for our bird is takoketai - let’s bring it back into use as it should be.

Takoketai on the water in the Hauraki Gulf. Hirakimata on Aotea
is the main breeding  colony for this Nationally Vulnerable species.

The most devastating threats to seabirds are from humans

Seabirds are amongst the most endangered species of vertebrates and are experiencing a perfect storm – scientists at the seminar identified these threats:

  • Rats and cats in colonies – wiping out most mainland breeding sites for seabirds, restricting them to remote and/or island breeding sites

  • The devastating cat/rat interaction: Feral cats are ‘super predators’, a species that consumes more than they need for daily requirements – i.e., it kills for other reasons.  Together with smaller predators (all species of rats and mice), they form an alliance that eats both eggs and chicks (rats), and chicks and adults (cats).

  • Starvation: Loss of food sources due to overfishing; fishing has a major impact – whether it is deep water, inshore, commercial or recreational.

  • Fisheries interactions: Injury and death caused through by-catch and inappropriate fishing methods. 

  • Ingestion of rubbish – especially plastic.

  • Oil and other pollution: The Rena disaster was catastrophe for seabirds. The Niagara wreck is currently lying off the Mokohinaus with many times more oil on board.

  • Light attraction: A problem for fledglings near habitation where young birds are predated or injured when they land in the wrong place.

  • Collisions: With infrastructure or buildings around or on the way to breeding colonies or feeding grounds.

Seabird chick with ingested plastics in its stomach. Plastic rubbish is now found in 90% of seabirds worldwide.

Environmental News Issue 38 Spring/Summer 2017