Facility upgraded by offenders helps kakapo

  • Maggie Barry
  • Judith Collins
Corrections Conservation

A kakapo chick rearing facility in Invercargill upgraded with the help of offenders carrying out community work is playing a vital role in the species’ recovery, Corrections Minister Judith Collins and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

The most vulnerable kakapo chicks hatched during this year’s record breeding season are being hand-reared at the site, a converted building offered by the Invercargill City Council.

The centre is needed for chicks which have fallen ill, or were not putting on sufficient weight in the wild.

So far there are nine chicks at the facility, eight from Whenua Hou/Codfish Island and one from Puke Nui/Anchor Island, out of 37 surviving young birds. Two chicks cared for at the facility have already been returned to kakapo mothers on Anchor Island.

“This vital centre gives these endangered birds the best possible chance of survival because the chicks will be hand-reared in small groups until they fledge at around 10 weeks old. Once they are large enough to fend for themselves they will be returned to their predator-free island homes,” Ms Barry says.

The chicks are attended to 24 hours a day by kakapo rangers and vets as they require regular feeding and health monitoring.

As part of the DOC-Corrections Good to Grow partnership signed in November, offenders serving community work sentences helped with the redevelopment of the facility.

Working alongside professional tradesmen, offenders with carpentry, building and painting experience were paired with unskilled offenders, giving them the opportunity to mentor and develop skills. Paint was provided by Dulux, another DOC partner.

“The offenders who worked on the centre have left the project with a sense of pride and achievement from being involved in something as significant as saving a species from extinction,” Ms Collins says.

The DOC Kakapo Recovery Programme team will be running public viewing sessions over weekends in May, with more information available soon.

“With only 123 adult kakapo remaining, and with such a successful breeding season now completed, protection of these chicks is a key priority for DOC,” Ms Barry says.

“The Invercargill facility is not only great for the chicks but also gives an opportunity for the public to get a rare look at kakapo. With the involvement of Corrections, this centre has helped with rehabilitation and shown the power of collaboration and partnership, including the strong support of local MP Sarah Dowie.”

A function will be held in Invercargill on April 28 to thank Corrections for its involvement in the project. Ms Dowie will represent the Ministers.