Trudy Burgess was grieving her father, so she asked the helicopters stay away from Olrig Station.

They were due for the annual poisoning of rooks by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, but she didn't want any more deaths.

A member of the crow family, the rooks were introduced as a biological control and are now regarded as a pest, but for Judy they have been an important part of the farm's 159 years.

"They browse the paddocks when we cultivate them, they browse the paddocks when we plant and we've never had any problems with them destroying anything here," she said.


"They are a biological control for things like grass grub which is very difficult to control.

"We have a few left but I see them as old bachelors because for quite a few years now they have been poisoning and targeting the females, so the rookery has being getting less and less.

"The paste is waterproof and odourless, and they smear it around the nest when the eggs are there. The female returns to the nest, she will get it on her feathers, she will preen herself and clean herself and ingest the poison that way."

On Trudy's request the Hawke's Bay Regional Council gave Olrig station a reprieve this year.

"I kept an eye out in case they mistakenly came here as well and I was ready to jump in the car and go to the rescue of my crows - which seems illogical and mad - but it is just an involuntary response. You think: we like these things, they are part of our flora and fauna on the farm, they provide a service for us and let's find another way that works for everybody. I'm not sure what that way is. Perhaps that money could be well spent on other pests, ground-dwelling ones that we have major problems with."

The Maraekakaho farm is being sold by auction this month and the helicopters will likely return.

"My suggestion would be to the crows to fly south because we are going that way and wherever we are they are welcome to join us."

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