Pateke (Brown Teal) release September 2012

First birdsong brought back to the islands: Project Island Song Bring Rare Pateke/Brown Teal Back to Pest-free Urupukapuka Island, Bay of Islands. The release of twelve rare pateke/brown teal today was a major milestone in the ongoing work of Project Island Song to bring back the birdsong to the islands of the Bay of Islands.

pateke-releaseAs the rarest waterfowl species in New Zealand, with only 2000 to 2500 pateke are left in the wild, it is hoped the pest-free islands will act as a conservation safe haven for the duck. Six males and six females were set free into the Entico Bay wetland, Urupukapuka Island, the largest pest-free island within Project Island Song in the eastern Bay of Islands/Ipipiri.

Fleur Corbett, Guardians of the Bay of Islands Chair (the local community group behind the release) says, "This is a really exciting next step for Project Island Song. Pateke may not be very tuneful singers but they will certainly be adding their song to the pest-free islands. We are looking forward to this release being the first of many other native birds and animals helping to make Project Island Song the best conservation project on the planet."

patekeMarara Te Tai Hook (Kuia, Ngati Kuta hapu) led the Ngati Kuta and Patukeha representatives at the release. Marara Hook says, "We give thanks for the safe arrival of these taonga to the area where Nga hapu Patukeha and Ngati Kuta are the ahi kaa and kaitiaki. May these birds enjoy their new surroundings and increase in numbers so that this generation and generations to come may benefit from the splendour of their colour and calls and add yet another dimension which their presence along the shores of Tangaroa will bring."

Pateke are the first native specie to be translocated back to the islands following the successful pest eradication carried out in winter 2009. Other species likely to be returned to bolster existing island populations are North Island brown kiwi and North Island robin. There are currently North Island brown kiwi on Motuarohia and Moturua Islands and North Island robin on Moturua Island.

The birds were flown up by Air New Zealand on the release day from the Christchurch Pateke Breeders Group facility at Peacock Gardens in Christchurch, then transported to the island by Fullers GreatSights vessel, Tangaroa.

Reuben Booth (Translocation Project Manager) says, "The pateke will be provided with supplementary food for the first three months following their release to encourage them to stay in the release area."

The pateke release (and the wider Project Island Song) is a collaboration between Patukeha and Ngati Kuta (hapu from Rawhiti in the eastern Bay of Islands), Guardians of the Bay of Islands (a local community group), the Pateke Recovery Group and the Department of Conservation Bay of Islands Area Office.