Wed, Nov 24, 2021 2:00 PM

New home for kākāriki in Brook Sanctuary

Twenty kākāriki karaka were released into the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary on Saturday. Photo: Andrew MacDonald.

Staff Reporter

The chattering call and vibrant plumage of the kākāriki karaka can now be found in the canopy of the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary after 20 of the critically-endangered birds were released on Saturday.

The kākāriki karaka/orange-fronted parakeet is a new species for the sanctuary and, with just 360 left in the wild, they are the rarest mainland forest bird in Aotearoa.

The budgie-sized birds were raised at The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust facilities in Christchurch and flown to Nelson on Thursday to acclimatise before their release.

Department of Conservation (DOC) kākāriki karaka operations manager, Wayne Beggs, says the transfer is a significant step forward for the species.

“The wild kākāriki karaka population is limited to a few Canterbury alpine valleys and an island in the Marlborough Sounds, so establishing new safe sites for this fragile species is vital.

“As well as helping expand the wild population, this new location will offer an important insurance policy if anything were to happen to the kākāriki karaka at other sites.”

Brook Waimārama Sanctuary chief executive Ru Collin says they are proud to have been selected by DOC and iwi to receive kākāriki karaka, which is a taonga for Ngāi Tahu and Te Tau Ihu iwi.

“In time, we expect to see the kākāriki population grow and expand out of the 700-ha sanctuary into the Richmond Forest and out into the Nelson hills.

“This project has a great chance of leaving a wonderful legacy for the Nelson region.”