Eight endemic kōkako birds have been released back into the native forests of East Taranaki following successful pest control efforts in the specially prepared 1000-hectare block of land.

The birds were translocated to the Taranaki bush from Little Barrier Island by the Purangi Kiwi and kōkako project last month.

The East Taranaki Environment Trust has worked with the Department of Conservation and iwi, supported by corporate partner Methanex NZ, on the translocation from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island to Pouiatoa Conservation Forest.

"We're thrilled that after eight years of working and waiting, kōkako are about to be brought back to this special area. Our team is delighted after working extremely hard to get to this point, making this dream a reality," says East Taranaki Environment Trust chairwoman Karen Schumacher.

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The breeding programme launched on Hauturu/Little Barrier Island has been so successful in its efforts to bring the kōkako birds back from the brink of extinction, that the island is now at capacity.

Karen says the birds were welcomed at Te Tupoko O Te Whenua Marae at Tarata and released into the bush in the Pouiatoa Conservation Forest, about 40 minutes inland from Inglewood, after a short helicopter flight.

Anaru Marshall from Ngati Maru says reintroducing the species is very exciting for iwi.
"Apart from being a great ecological project, it signals a regeneration of the land. It shows the forests are healthy and pests have been eradicated.

"We see this as part of the big picture of enhancing the land and a predator-free Aotearoa, which will benefit all New Zealanders for the future," says Anaru.

Methanex New Zealand public affairs manager Juliet Larkin says Methanex staff have been part of a force of volunteers helping with access tracks and are proud to be part of the project.

"It's important for us to be supporting this project in the Waitara River catchment area, helping enhance the ecosystem and restore this special area on our back doorstep so that the call of the kōkako can be heard again in the hills."