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Hauraki Herald, 14.06.2002


Weka back in Karangahake


After four years of silence the call of the weka can again be heard in Karangahake.

Weka specialist Elaine Staples has looked after six weka from Pakatoa Island near Auckland for the past six weeks.

She says the birds will stay in her aviary at Karangahake for another week, until a new release aviary in Northland is completed.

The birds are descendants of weka she and her late husband Gary reared about four years ago as part of a plan to reintroduce weka to Karangahake.

That plan was abandoned because ferrets, dogs and other predators killed all the released birds.

The weka that remained in the Staples' care were taken to the predator-free zones on Pakatoa Island and Whanganui Island.

The birds thrived, so much so that Pakatoa Island ran out of food as more than 100 birds competed to survive.

Six birds were captured on the island as part of a joint Forest and Bird and Department of Conservation project. The weka will eventually be released on a predator-free mainland island near Russell.

In the meantime Mrs Staples has been able to reacquaint herself with the mischievous little birds. But to do that she has needed a special permit from DOC.

Looking after the endangered animals is a big job. The troughs need to be kept clean and the birds must be fed chicken pellets twice a day.

Most importantly, feeding stations have to be kept dry or a fungus will grow on the pellets that can kill the weka.

But it's all worth it.

Mrs Staples says watching the little brown birds tear around their enclosure is quite entertaining.

"They're like goldfish, you can sit and watch them for ages."

Weka make a distinctive sound, and as the young birds have become acclimatised to their new home in Karangahake they have started calling again.

It's a sound Mrs Staples has not heard from her property in a long time.