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Rare, tiny tītipounamu birds return to Wellington after decades of absence

The tītipounamu (rifleman) has arrived in Wellington after being absent from the capital for decades.

Fifty-nine of New Zealand's smallest bird have arrived at Wellington's ecosanctuary Zealandia from Wainuiomata Mainland Island.

Zealandia's Danielle Shanahan said the move to Wellington was an "important step" in the tītipounamu conservation.

Many tītipounamu still live in Wainuiomata.

"The good health of the tītipounamu population is a testament to 15 dedicated years of predator control," Prue Lamason of Greater Wellington Regional Council said. 

According to the Routeburn Wildlife Trust, the tītipounamu are about 8 centimetres long as a fully grown adult, weighing about 6-7 grams.

Zealandia officials say the name of tītipounamu is a loose translation of "mirage of greenstone, referring to the bird's green plumage and fast-moving nature".

Tītipounamu (rifleman)
Tītipounamu (rifleman) Source: Supplied/Zealandia