TODAY |

Watch: Pair of kōkako released into Taranaki forest following successful pest control efforts

A pair of endemic kōkako birds are being released back into East Taranaki's native forests following successful pest control efforts in the specially-prepared 1000-hectare block of land.

The birds have been translocated to the Taranaki bush from Little Barrier Island by the Purangi Kiwi and Kōkako Project today, with one dozen expected to be released back to the mainland next week.

The two birds were transported by helicopter deep into the Taranaki forest, with the volunteer and release groups following close behind to witness the moment.

The breeding program, launched on Little Barrier Island, is at full capacity following its successful efforts to bring the kōkako birds back from the brink of extinction.

Purangi's Trust chairwoman, Karen Schumacher said: "We're thrilled that after eight years of working and waiting, kōkako are finally going to arrive at our project.

"Our team is absolutely delighted and we all have huge smiles on our faces."

A network of 800 traps by Goodnature, a conservation trapping company, were used to completely clear the land of rats and possums in preparation for the birds' release.

Goodnature founder Robbie van Dam said: "It's inspiring to see such dedication to conservation at the grassroots level; Purangi's commitment to kōkako conservation has spanned nearly a decade and has led to this momentous occasion.

"Community-led initiatives are playing a vital part in managing the pest population across the nation, in turn helping to achieve our Predator Free 2050 goals."

A powhiri was held at Te Upoko O Te Whenua in Tarata on yesterday night, followed by the release of the kōkako this morning.