Twenty young yellow-crowned kākāriki bred by Ngā Manu Nature Reserve made a trip from Waikanae to Puangiangi Island in Marlborough yesterday.
Transferred by helicoptered along with 16 from Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, the relocation of the yellow-crowns from the two wildlife centres is a last-chance effort to establish a population on the privately owned island.
Fauna Recovery New Zealand, the restoration group focused on Puangiangi Island have a permit from the Department of Conservation to transfer yellow-crowned kākāriki there, and over the last eight years there have been several releases.
"They have already transferred 40 yellow-crowned kākāriki over time, but this will be the largest number of birds that have been released at one time, and the best chance of establishing a population," Ngā Manu manager Matu Both said.
"There are a few yellow-crowned kākāriki present and breeding as a result of the earlier translocations and this season there has already been five released there.
"So really, with the birds released from us and Pūkaha this will either establish the population or otherwise they will have to say a yellow-crown population is unlikely to work there.
"With this release there will be no excuse of a lack of numbers."
While Ngā Manu is a relatively small nature reserve they are part of nationwide breeding programmes which contributes to conservation projects all around New Zealand.
"We are captive breeders for wherever the release site is and this time it is Puangiangi Island.
"Ngā Manu has a long history of producing kākāriki species including the yellow-crowns for many years.
"We have followed the need around and breed them as needed for other sights.
"While they [DoC] generally like to do a simple translocation from wild to wild, because yellow-crowns breed well in captivity it is seen as an option to release them into a population with wild birds.
"Kākāriki are very quick and prolific breeders so the population could build quickly and the results will become obvious."
Ngā Manu has extensive experience with yellow-crowns, with Peter McKenzie who founded Ngā Manu having a special interest in the birds.
"We have a long history with this species in particular but we are always identifying where we can make the best contribution to conservation in New Zealand."
After the release, Fauna Recovery New Zealand will undertake follow-up monitoring.