A cute takahe chick stole the show today as Motutapu island celebrated 21 years of volunteer conservation work.
The months-old chick, which has yet to be named, was born on the island late last year, and showed how successful the work had been, Brett Butland, chairman of the Motutapu Restoration Trust said.
It was the first juvenile takahe born on the island.
The trust is celebrating more than two decades since the start of "an ambitious journey of ecological and cultural restoration on Motutapu".
"The island is a very different place from the bare island it was back then," it said today.
"About 100 hectares of farmland have been transformed into a rapidly maturing native forest. Around 440,000 plants have been planted, raised from seed in the Trust's native plant nursery; each task undertaken by volunteers. In addition, volunteers have removed many hundreds of thousands of invasive weeds."
The creation of a native forest capable of sustaining a variety of New Zealand's threatened and endangered species prompted the Department of Conservation to eradicate animal pest species from both Rangitoto and Motutapu.
Now native bird species, including takahe, kiwi, shore plover and brown teal, call the island home, and other species return to the island every year.
The thousands of people who gave up their free time made it happen, Mr Butland said, calling them the "lifeblood" of the project.
"Today we recognise the commitment of all our volunteers over the last 21 years. Together they have created the sanctuary that is now home for many of New Zealand's threatened species."
He added: "The significance of the volunteers' work is most powerfully reflected by the survival of the first juvenile takahe on Motutapu."