An internationally recognised champion of the endangered kākāpō is to be inducted into the Central Hawke's Bay College Hall of Honour.
Daryl Eason attended Central Hawke's Bay College from 1980 to 1984.
For more than 25 years he has played a major role in saving from extinction, the endemic flightless kākāpō which is ranked nationally as critically endangered.
The kākāpō is the largest of all parrots and use to be found all over New Zealand.
Due to ecological changes the loss of habitat and introduced predators, the number of kākāpō was only 51 in 1995. Today the population of adult kākāpō is 206 who are all tagged and live on predator free islands. Daryl has had a large part to play in this recovery.
Upon leaving school Daryl volunteered and then worked at the National Wildlife Centre at Mount Bruce, now known as Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. John Cheyne was the manager of Mt Bruce at the time and says when Daryl turned up as a volunteer, straight from college, it was immediately obvious he was "feather fingered".
"He had a particular skill with hand-rearing birds and when I became manager for the wildlife service at the bottom of the South Island I twisted his arm to to move down."
At the age of 20 Daryl took up a position as manager at the Burwood Takahē Centre near Te Anau. This involved captive rearing of another critically endangered flightless bird, the takahē. This was followed by his appointment in 1996 as the technical advisor to the National Kākāpō Recovery team initially based in Wellington, but moving to Invercargill in 2014, close to where most of the wild kākāpō now live.
Daryl is responsible for breeding management, including the artificial incubation and hand-rearing of any chicks or eggs that might not survive in the wild. Between breeding seasons he oversees the ongoing management of the kākāpō population on a small number of predator free islands in Southland.
His contribution to the recovery of the kākāpō has been significant and he has been recognised nationally for his work, most notably in the book Kākāpō — Rescued from the Brink of Extinction.
His outstanding work has also been recognised by his peers worldwide who work in the threatened species recovery field, where he is considered a "conservation champion".
CHB College principal Lance Christiansen says "we are proud that one of our former students has followed his passion and contributed so tirelessly towards the conservation of one of our rarest national birds."
Daryl says "Management of kākāpō has come with huge challenges, but the work, which involves a lot of science and technical management is ever-changing, exciting, and immensely satisfying, particularly seeing hand-reared birds, many of which were critically ill, returned to the wild, adapting behaviourally and socially and going on to raise their own chicks."
Daryl's induction into the Hall of Honour will be held on Thursday March 4 at the CHB College Hall.
Daryl will also be speaking in Waipukurau later that evening.
What: A public presentation, supported by Forest and Bird, Central Hawke's Bay Branch,
on the Kākāpō Recovery Programme.
Time: 7.30pm Thursday March 4.
Where: Waipukurau Primary School (main hall), St Mary's Road, Waipukurau
Entry: By gold coin donation.