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May 11, 1994


Joe the weka is alive

It is now 18 months since the first two weka were released at Karangahake and one of those birds, affectionately known as "Joe", still survives.

We wish that the same could be said for others released during the first year.

The other bird released with Joe was found dead by the roadside near Te Aroha, three months after release. Weka have a homing instinct and the first birds we released had come from the Otorohanga Kiwi House, so he was heading "home".

Some years ago, in an effort to establish a new population of North Island weka, a number of Gisborne birds were banded and released in the Waitakeres.

Three months later one of these birds was killed on the road at Taneatua. It has to be remembered that weka are flightless, although they can swim.

The programme which we are involved with, co-ordinated by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, aims to establish a new self-sustaining population of weka by way of a "soft" release method.

That is, juvenile birdsare brought to the release aviary on our property and they are released when they are considered old enough to have developed a homing instinct, based on Karangahake. Much of this is by trial and error. Joe is the big success.

During the last six months we have released 10 birds and three of these are dead. Some birds wear radios and so we are able to follow their progress. There are 12 birds in the release aviary at present.

We have two pairs of weka in our own aviaries. Bosley and Miranda have raised 10 chicks and Nelson and Emma have raised two. Much time is spent looking after all these birds in our care and, of course, weka watching.