New home for takahe at Tawharanui

Only about 260 takahe are left - and just 60 breeding pairs. Photo / Getty Images
Only about 260 takahe are left - and just 60 breeding pairs. Photo / Getty Images

A new haven for takahe, one of New Zealand's most threatened native bird species, will be set up north of Auckland at Tawharanui.

The large blue-green flightless birds were thought extinct until rediscovery in 1948. Only about 260 birds are left including about 60 safe breeding pairs.

A release of takahe to the largely predator-free Tawharanui Open Sanctuary within the Tawharanui Regional Park is planned for spring 2014. The sanctuary is already home to kiwi, saddlebacks, kakariki, bellbirds, robins and kaka.

"Welcoming a treasured species like takahe to Tawharanui is a sign of maturity for the open sanctuary and and a measure of success for this community-focused park," Auckland Council spokeswoman Christine Fletcher said.

"Takahe are a significant taonga for Maori and we look forward to working with iwi on this project."

The project is a partnership between the council, Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society, Mitre 10 MEGA Warkworth and the Department of Conservation.

A new stretch of takahe-proof fence will need to be built before the birds are released.

While major sponsor Mitre 10 will make it possible to build the fence, the open sanctuary society is also appealing for donations to reach its $30,000 fundraising target to house and care for the birds.

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