What is happening to these rare Marlborough Sounds seabirds?

They're one of the country's rarest seabirds, living only in the Marlborough Sounds - but there are concerns the king shag is in trouble.

A recent census saw bird numbers drop by a quarter. Now a crucial tagging programme is underway which could help find out why.

Eleven king shag chicks and one adult have been tagged for the first time on Pohuenui Island in Tawhitinui Bay as part of a joint effort between the Department of Conservation and Marine Farming Association.

Kingshags living in the Marlborough Sounds
Kingshags living in the Marlborough Sounds. Source: Supplied

"It was thought to be quite a sensitive bird, and so there was a lot of reluctance to do any banding of it but we really needed to learn more about it," explains DOC seabird scientist Graeme Taylor.

Three years ago an aerial survey, commissioned by King Salmon, was carried out which counted a total of 830 birds in the area. This year that total dropped by 200 birds.

"While we are concerned there's been such a big decline, we would certainly like to get a longer term trend data, at least another three or four years to see whether this is part of a steady decline down which would be terrible if it is or whether they just fluctuate in numbers," says Mr Taylor.

It's also possible human activity in the Sounds is to blame.

Marine farms do occupy space and underneath them the habitat may not be suitable for king shags so that has been one of the main concerns in the marine consent hearings".

Other factors could include siltation of the Sounds from run off from land, disturbance of colonies from boating, ocean acidification and climate change.

Marine Farming Association president Jonathan Large says the problem at the moment is "we don't know if we are causing a problem or not".

Which is why they've spent two years collaborating with a number of groups including the Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries, Marlborough District Council, Iwi and Wildlife Management International.

Together they form the King Shag Working Group.

"What we wanted to try and ascertain is some really good scientific data around not only how many birds are around but also where those birds are interacting, how far their flights are, where we see them,” explains Mr Large.

Local eco-tourism operators will be watching with interest, having tried to raise the king shag's profile.

"I've been watching these birds daily for ten years every day," says E-ko Tours operator Paul Keating.

"Really the significance they hold for us, both nationally and locally, we should put a lot more effort into making sure they are sustainable for the future and their numbers don't decrease".

The king shag is one of the country's rarest seabirds - but how much do we actually know about it? Source: 1 NEWS



Three people arrested after police conduct search warrants targeting organised crime, drugs in Bay of Plenty

Police have arrested three people so far today after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investgation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

Two men and a woman were arrested. 

They are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police



Watch: 'Make it lit fam' - Andrew Little releases video appealing for 2019 New Plymouth youth MP

MP Andrew Little has released a video appealing for a 2019 New Plymouth youth MP.

In the video, Mr Little can be seen making digs at his political rivals - David Seymour, Gareth Morgan, Bill English and John Key - while attempting to appeal to the modern teenager.

"I'm Andrew Little. You may know me for such things as my cat (soz Gareth), beard polls, party hats and Dancing With The Stars. Just kidding. That's Not Safe for Twerk," the Justice Minister says.

"But if you're going to have a backing track, make sure it's pretty legal. So make it lit fam."

The MP can be seen making digs at his political rivals as he tries to appeal to the modern teenager. Source: Breakfast


Man in critical condition after stabbing at property near Opotiki

A man has been hospitalised in a critical condition following a stabbing at a property near Opotiki, in the Bay of Plenty, this morning.

The man has been transported to Whakatāne Hospital after he was stabbed at an address on Waiotahe Valley Road, in Waiotahi, at 7.25am.

The people involved in the incident are known to each other, police say.

Police know the identity of the suspect and are working to locate him.

A scene examination is currently being carried out at the address.

Source: 1 NEWS