Kiwi zoologist stacking up every stick he can to save endangered New Zealand bird

A threatened bird species in New Zealand is fighting its way back from the brink of extinction.

The great crested grebe is grabbing its chance of survival thanks to swim noodles and some good old Kiwi ingenuity.

Three years ago there was only one pair of great crested grebes in Wanaka, desperately trying to make a floating nest.

The great crested grebe is fighting its way back from the brink of extinction thanks to some man-made rafts. Source: 1 NEWS

They had built nests, they laid eggs, and they lost them, twice over.

Luckily for them, retired zoologist John Darby noticed their plight and set out to build them their own pontoons.

"It was very important to build them a nest, and so I built the first nest, but I didn't just build ordinary nests," he said.

"I built super big nests... and they seemed to go for that in a big way."

The great crested grebes are one of New Zealand's rarest birds.

It's estimated there are only 600 in the wild.

Mr Darby has a concession from the Department of Conservation to trial the nest pontoons.

He hopes to establish a grebe reserve alongside the marina.

Research underway to find out why Kaikoura whale numbers are falling

A three-year study into what whales have been feeding on, in the Deep Canyon off the Kaikoura Coast, is under way to find out why numbers there have declined.

Two Otago University researchers are doing this by setting out to find skin flakes the whale leaves behind on the surface.

University of Otago researchers will analyse the whales' diet in the hope of determining why their numbers have fallen. Source: 1 NEWS

Researcher Marta Guerra says by analysing the chemistry of a piece of tissue, she can track down what a whale has been eating; even though a whale can put away 1.5 tonnes of food a day.

It's not known what the whales have been eating in the massive Kaikoura Canyon, which goes to depths of 1.3 kilometres.

"We don't understand the whole food web and what keeps these whales coming back to Kaikoura... and what sustains the food web that they depend on here," says Ms Guerra.

It's a three-year project. 

But, the two researchers will soon be trading in their life-jackets for lab coats, so testing can get underway.

The team has only 10 weeks to conduct their research at sea.

This means they have to venture out on the sea, irrespective of the conditions.


'Most of his family were with him' - Much loved comedian Jon Gadsby dead, aged 62

Celebrated Kiwi comedian Jon Gadsby has passed away after a battle with cancer.

The 62-year-old Christchurch-based entertainer was diagnosed with a brain tumour in September.

In a statement the family has thanked everyone "who has been part of Jon's journey" since his diagnosis.

Jon Gadsby had been writing and presenting popular comedy television shows for nearly 40 years and was one of the comedians behind the long-running political satire show McPhail and Gadsby, which TVNZ broadcast in the 1990s. 

He had written more than 250 hours of prime time television and was a lead actor in 400 episodes.

Gadsby was also a regular writer for several newspapers and magazines like The Listener and authored dozens of children's books and poems. 

Family friend Tracey Chambers said most of his family were with him when he passed away last night in Christchurch.

“This is a very, very close family and while everyone knew Jon was unwell it’s always a shock when the inevitable happens.”

One of the first to pay tribute to the late broadcaster was long time collaborator and friend Peter Rowley.

On his personal Facebook page, Mr Rowley posted a picture of the them with fellow comedian David McPhail yesterday evening, accompanying it with the words "RIP Jono...".

In October, his family said in a statement to media that his diagnosis and treatment was a "difficult time for everyone".

"Jon and the family are grateful for the excellent care he is receiving from the medical profession and for the good wishes and prayers from the community," his family said.

Mr Gadsby was born in England and moved to New Zealand with his family eight years later. In 1975 he took a job in radio and his television career soon took off.

In 1992 he was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for his work in broadcasting.

Kiwi Comedian Jon Gadsby.
Kiwi Comedian Jon Gadsby. Source: Supplied