Whangārei's bird recovery centre helps more than 1000 birds every year, but now it needs help to survive after losing its major sponsor.

Robert Webb, from the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre, said Northpower - which had been the centre's major sponsor for the past 12 years - told him earlier this month it had withdrawn its $14,000 annual funding.

"It's been really neat working with Northpower, there's no doubt about that. But it comes as a shock because it means we've got to try find other funding to keep the centre surviving.

"That's going to leave a big hole in our looking after the birds, for the food and medication," he said.


The Maunu-based centre provides help, treatment and rehabilitation for injured and ill birds so they can be returned to the wild.

Webb said Northpower had told him early last year it would probably be the final year the centre received funding, but he assumed he would get a formal letter to confirm that and indicate when the funding would stop.

But it wasn't until Webb sent his monthly column to Northpower earlier this month - which gets published in a local newspaper and is sponsored by Northpower- when he was told he had to remember the funding had stopped.

"We never got an official letter or nothing. Naturally I thought I haven't received a letter so everything must still be chugging along, maybe they've changed their minds," he said.

But Steve Macmillan, Northpower public affairs manager, said Northpower often reviewed sponsorships and on more than one occasion last year it informed the bird recovery centre that a review was under way and that, pending the fuller review, the sponsorship would finish at the end of March.

"We were not asked to provide a formal letter and as a very community-minded organisation, we would have happily done so if requested as I have an excellent relationship with Robert and his team," he said.

Robert Webb, from the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre, is hunting for more funding so he can keep caring for birds like this. Photo/Tania Whyte
Robert Webb, from the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre, is hunting for more funding so he can keep caring for birds like this. Photo/Tania Whyte

Webb said while he understood the reasons why funding had been withdrawn, he was disappointed he had not received a formal notice earlier.

"I thought it would have been courteous ... That would have given me more chance last year to find some more sponsors."


The Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre is run voluntarily by Webb and wife Robyn and each year the centre cares for about 1300 birds.

"The food for the birds is around about $250 every week, medication can be horrendous that can be $200 or $300 every week. So you can burn in to that sort of money through the course of a year very quickly."

He said ideally the centre would receive more government funding, and he was putting out the call for help.

"We'll just keep pushing, but if the funds start to run out we could be history as well. Once again it's the birds that are missing out, not the humans."

Macmillan said the Northpower sponsorship review was ongoing so it was yet to decide if funds would be spent in a different way over the next 12 months.

"Like many companies, we receive dozens of sponsorship requests from many worthy causes every year and we always do our best to support our community but simply can't sponsor everything all the time."