kōkako - te kōrero o tamanui
The beautiful call of the critically endangered kōkako has long been missing from the Taranaki bush but a massive conservation effort has brought it back.
In early June 2017, five breeding pairs and two bachelor males were released into the bush of the Parininihi forest reserve - a huge milestone in this visionary project.
Decimated by the marauding armies of possums, rats, stoats, cats and goats that had invaded the Parininihi forest reserve, the Taranaki kōkako population had been reduced to just one bird. That bird was Tamanui, and he carried the hopes of the future on his wings.
Rescued from certain death by the Department of Conservation in the mid 1990s, Tamanui was named by local iwi Ngāti Tama, who also pledged that they would find a way rejuvenate the forest so that Tamanui and his whānau could return home safely.
Tamanui was taken to a captive breeding programme at Pukaha/Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre, where he thrived, producing chicks with his new mate Mapara, while Ngāti Tama began working on a pest eradication project to make his home safe again.
Tamanui died in 2008, but his genes live on in his progeny, and the project to bring the kōkako back to Taranaki gained momentum.
Puke Ariki and the Tiaki Te Mauri o Parininihi Trust (formed by Ngāti Tama) joined forces and, supported by Taranaki Regional Council,began spreading the word about the project and telling Tamanui’s story.
A display in the Taranaki Naturally gallery features Tamanui himself, fascinating footage of his rescue and his time at Pukaha, and a cool computer game where players have to help Hotu, one of Tamanui’s mokopuna, find berries and outfox predators. There is also an interactive display in Discover it!
To find out more about the work of the Tiaki te Mauri o Parininihi Trust, its efforts to bring native birds back to the area and to donate directly to enable to the work to continue, visit www.parininihi.co.nz