The second batch of North Island robins or pitoitoi were released on Mt Pirongia in the middle of last month by Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society, amidst strong support from the public.
The project was funded by Waikato Regional Council and saw over 80 volunteers helping with fieldwork in the Mangatutu Ecological Area in Northern Pureora Forest over the last two months.
Pitoitoi were once present on Mt Pirongia, but died out over a hundred years ago, probably due to introduced predators.
Because the restoration society has successfully reduced rats and possums in a 1000ha bait station grid, they were eligible to translocate 60 pitoitoi in an effort to re-establish a self-sustaining population on the maunga once more.
"We are tremendously grateful to the support received from the Department of Conservation and Waikato Regional Council for this project as well as iwi groups such as Ngati Rereahu and Purekireki Marae," said society chairperson Clare St Pierre.
"The volunteers have absolutely loved the opportunity to interact with the robins and to play a special part in boosting the biodiversity present on Mt Pirongia. We now have our sights set on further species translocations in the future, especially kokako which some of our committee members remember hearing on the mountain back in the 1980s."
At the release Mrs St Pierre paid tribute to the many groups who contributed to the smooth running and success of the project, especially Pirongia Forest Park Lodge and Te Pahu School senior classes who constructed the capture boxes, Otorohanga Kiwi House for helping with the supply of mealy worms and Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust and Massey University for the use of their traps.
Selwyn June, the society's project leader, and Paul 'Scratch' Jansen as ecological supervisor also made outstanding contributions.
The newly released birds will be monitored over the next few weeks so their locations can be noted.
The society would be interested in hearing from members of the public seeing any robins in the vicinity of Mt Pirongia and if possible the colour and order of the leg bands, eg pink over yellow.
Marking the location on the walking track concerned would assist greatly so that the locations can be referenced by GPS.
The society also has other volunteer opportunities arising in the near future and would welcome any enquires. They are happy to match up interests, fitness and availability.