Stepping up to save New Zealand’s most endangered bird – tara iti /fairy tern

“With only six pairs attempting to nest last season, and a population of approximately 40 birds, the plight of the fairy tern/tara iti is critical,” says Troy Makan, Tara iti Recovery Group Leader.

“DOC is taking a collaborative approach with a newly-established Tara iti Recovery Group which includes Ngāti Whatua O Kaipara, Patuharakeke Te Iwi and Te Uri o Hau. It will be supported with dedicated DOC science staff and increased research. The recovery group has their first meeting today in Whangarei today (29 May 2019).”

A 2017 review made 22 recommendations which form the basis of the latest recovery programme. Fifteen recommendations are currently being implemented with the remaining seven to be progressed under the leadership of the recovery group.

Implementing the new recovery programme involves developing new techniques and management strategies.

There is already significant on the ground management of the populations at the breeding and roosting sites near Auckland and Whangarei. This includes avian and mammalian predator control, proactive development of nesting sites with fencing, chick protection and monitoring with onsite public advocacy and compliance to keep the breeding areas undisturbed.

“There’s fantastic community support and DOC works closely with several community groups and trusts to raise funding to support New Zealand fairy tern/tara iti along with providing and coordinating volunteers on the ground,” says Mr Makan.

“These include Birds NZ, Forest and Bird, Mangawhai About Tern, the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society, the New Zealand Fairy Tern Trust, the Te Arai and Mangawhai Shorebirds Trust and Waipu About Tern.”

“DOC is partnering with the Te Arai and Mangawhai Shorebirds Trust, Boffa Miskell Ltd, Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust and the New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust, to fund key research and predator control. This includes the development of new management strategies, genetic research into pedigree and infertility and new tools, and techniques for nest protection including nest monitoring using trail cameras and year-round predator control at Mangawhai spit.”

“These precious birds have been hanging onto the brink for too long. The recovery group enables us to give the tara iti the chance to once again flourish on our shores,” says Mr Makan

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