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Waihi Gazette, 03.06.1992


Endangered bird back in Waikino

Wekas are back in Waikino.

Thanks to farmers John and Helen Wilson, Waikino and the Karangahake area should have a vibrant weka population within a few years.

And, if all goes well, the area should become one of the largest weka habitats in the North Island.

Wekas are on the native bird endangered species list.

They are flightless birds which vary in size but can grow up to the size of a small hen or a bantam.

The Wilsons now have a breeding pair in a special aviary on their deer farm.

The idea is to rear chicks - and wekas breed at least three times a year - to eventually let loose in the Karangahake areas.

'Thirty days after the chick is born it'll be taken to Karangahake and kept for another 30 days before it's let loose in the bush," said Mr Wilson.

"Wekas actually grow to full maturity in 30 days." Mr Wilson said their wekas were the last of over a dozen breeding pairs spread over the mid-North Island and cared for by volunteers like themselves.

Like the Waikino wekas, all chicks from the pairs will eventually be released in and around Karangahake.

"The whole programme was organised by Anne and Basil Graeme from the Royal Forest and Bird Society.

"They came up with the idea and cleared it with the Department of Conservation.

"It's not official yet, but it looks like Karangahake will be the place chosen to release the chicks.

"Of all the places in the North Island Karangahake was seen as the place most likely for wekas to survive."

Mr Wilson said, ever since they moved to the area from Gordonton over five years ago, they had always wanted to help rear wekas.

When the forest and bird society asked for volunteers they were only too happy to oblige.

On Saturday Waihi Community Board chairman Joyce Fawcett officially welcomed the weka pair to Waikino at a small function attended by the Graemes, DOC and some curious friends and neighbours.