Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

2018 Photo Comp opens for entries

Date posted: 27-Nov-2017

The 2018 Photo Competition is now open for entries. Click here (/2018-photo-competition-tiritiri-mat..

New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Details of the Tiritiri takahe


Photograph by Kay Milton ©

Where they came from

The first takahē on Tiritiri were Mr Blue and Stormy, both males, introduced from Maud Island in 1991 for advocacy purposes. Further birds were translocated over the next few years from Maud Island, Kapiti, Mana Island and Burwood Bush (Burwood Captive Rearing Unit, a DOC facility near Te Anau), to commence a breeding programme; among these were JJ (Maud Island), the first female on Tiritiri, and Greg (Burwood). Greg spent the rest of his life on the Island, becoming a great favourite with visitors. Sadly, he died in August 2012, aged nearly 20, but some of his descendants still live there, as do descendants of Stormy and JJ.

Over the years a number of other birds have been translocated to Tiritiri from the above sites as part of the takahē management programme; such translocations aim to assist the breeding programme and to increase genetic diversity. Similarly, birds have been translocated from Tiritiri to other sites, such as Motutapu, where a new population was established in 2011 and 2012. 

A note on colour bands

Colour bands are read from top to bottom, left leg (the bird’s left leg) first, then right. For example, a bird with orange over metal on the left leg and red over green on the right leg would be recorded as OM-RG.  All birds have one metal band with a unique identification number which is recorded on a national database. Colour bands are simply to enable the birds to be easily identified when seen.

The letter codes are as follows:

M – metal        B – blue           Bk – black       G – green        O – orange      R – red           

W – white       Y –yellow.

 

Tiritiri takahē in 2011-2012

Birds which were translocated to Tiri are listed in the table.

 

   Hatching Date Translocation date  Origin site
Greg (m)
11.12.92  May 1994  Burwood 
Montague (m) 15.11.99  Aug 2005  Kapiti 
Mahuika (f) 15.10.02  Jun 2006  Mana Is. 
Cheesecake (f) 10.12.04  Jun 2006  Burwood 
Edge (f) 10.11.06  Aug 2007  Burwood 
Te Mingi (m) 01.11.06  Aug 2010  Kapiti 
 


These birds were all named prior to translocation, except Greg. He was named after Greg Chalmers from DuPont, who played a major part in enabling Tiri to have takahē.

Tiritiri-hatched birds on the Island in 2011-12 are:

Ahikaea, daughter of Greg, mother of Blackwatch, hatched 3.10.1997. Her name means 'first of spring' – she hatched early in the season.

Blackwatch, grandson of Greg, son of Ahikaea, hatched 17.10.2000 and named to recognise the support of St Cuthbert’s College (their uniform is Black Watch tartan).

Mungo, a male, whose parents were offspring of Stormy and JJ, hatched 26.10.2002 and named to recognise the support of St Kentigern College (Mungo is the familiar name for St Kentigern).

Wal, son of Te Mingi and Cheesecake, hatched 15.11.2010. Wal was named in recognition of Ray and Barbara Walter’s significant contribution to Tiri and its takahē.

Raumati, daughter of Montague and Ahikaea, hatched 25.10.2010. Her name means ‘summer’ and thus links to her mother’s name (associated with spring).

Established pairs

Blackwatch, male, M-G and Mahuika, female, BkO-BkM

Blackwatch is a Tiritiri-hatched bird (17.10.2000), son of Ahikaea, and Greg’s grandson. Mahuika (15.10.2002) was translocated from Mana Island in June 2006. They have been together since Mahuika arrived on the Island and have successfully raised three chicks before this year. They also have a male chick this season, named Beacon, hatched  on the 13th November 2011.

Their territory is the foghorn/lighthouse area.

Montague, male, RB-M and Ahikaea, female, RM-Y

Montague (aka Monte, 15.11.1999) was translocated from Kapiti Island in August 2005. Ahikaea (3.10.1997) is a Tiri-hatched bird, daughter of Greg. Ahikaea had previously successfully raised five chicks with other partners, but has been with Monte since his arrival. They have successfully raised six chicks, including Raumati last season, but unfortunately lost their chick in 2011-12.

Their territory is along Ridge Road, about the centre of the Island.

Mungo, male, GM-W and Edge, female, R-YM

Mungo (26.10.02) is a Tiri-hatched bird whose parents were offspring of Stormy and JJ (Stormy and JJ successfully raised 7 chicks, and JJ was also the mother of a further 3 chicks with other partners). Edge (10.11.06) was translocated from Burwood as a young bird in August 2007, and paired up with Mungo not long after, having spent a short time with Greg.  They have not bred successfully until this season, but have a male chick named Ariki, hatched on 20 October 2011.

Their territory is in the North-east Bay area.

Te Mingi, male, M-WW and Cheesecake, female, R-WM

Te Mingi (1.11.06) was translocated from Kapiti Island in August 2010, and Cheesecake  (10.12.04) from Burwood in June 2006. Cheesecake was previously the partner of Greg, but has been with Te Mingi since shortly after his arrival. Wal is their chick from last season, and they also have a male chick this season, named Westie, hatched on the 1st November 2011.

Their territory is the lighthouse/Visitor Centre area.

Single Birds

Greg, male, RB-YM

Greg (11.12.92) was translocated from Burwood on the 1st May 1994. He was from a Murchison egg which was hatched at Burwood. While he has previously had partners, and fathered seven chicks successfully (the most recent – with Cheesecake - being Ella, who is now on Motutapu), he is now on his own. He may be seen anywhere from Hobbs Beach to the Visitor Centre.

Tiri takahē in 2012-13

The most significant event in 2012 was the sad death of Greg. He would have been 20 in November and is very much missed by Tiritiri staff, volunteers and visitors. A new sign commemorating Greg and Mr Blue has been erected at their graves close to the bunkhouse.

Meanwhile, four of the younger birds hatched on Tiritiri since 2010 have been moved to new homes elsewhere. Raumati, Westie and Beacon are now living on Motutapu, where they have joined Ella, Greg and Cheesecake's daughter (hatched in 2009-10). Ella herself has a male partner, Hemi, and can often be found in the Home Bay area of Motuatpu. The other young bird from Tiritiri, Wal, has moved to the breeding centre at Burwood, where he had paired up with a young female called George.

Back on Tiritiri, the breeding season has been mixed. Mungo and Edge hatched two chicks, of which one survived. Their son Ariki, from 2011-12, is still with them helping to raise his young sibling.

Montague and Ahikaea have one chick, as do Blackwatch and Mahuika. Both families are often visible to visitors, Montague and Ahikaea along the Ridge Road and Blackwatch and Mahuika in the lighthouse area. Sadly, Te Mingi and Cheesecake lost their chick at the beginning of January.

Tiritiri takahē in 2013-14

There were big changes in the Island's takahe population in August and September 2013. Sadly, Blackwatch, Mahuika's partner, disappeared following a period of hostility between him and Te Mingi. Shortly afterwards, their chick, who had been in poor condition for some time and under treatment by the vets from Auckland Zoo, was found dead. This was an important loss, as the chick was male and the takahe population in general is short of males. This left Mahuika alone in her territory at the southern end of the Island.

The Takahē Recovery Team decided to retire Montague and Ahikaea from the breeding programme. Ahikaea, approaching her 16th birthday, had reached an age at which takahē tend to lose their fertility, and her partner Montague, at 14, was not far behind. The Recovery Team wanted to free up their territory for a young pair, so Montague and Ahikaea went to Auckland Zoo, where they can play an important role as advocates for their species. They settled well into their new home, and have become an important part of the Zoo's native fauna display. Meanwhile their daughter from 2012-13, who was still with them when they left the Island, went to Burwood to participate in the captive breeding programme (she has been named Rautangi).

Replacing Montague and Ahikaea, two young birds, Ranfurly (m, RM-O) and Nohoa (f, WM-BkB) arrived from Burwood. Things did not go entirely to plan. Instead of staying with Nohoa in Montague and Ahikaea's old territory, Ranfurly took up with Mahuika for several weeks in her territory at the south end. Eventually Nohoa joined him there and Mahuika was alone once more. Nohoa made a nest and incubated one egg for a couple of weeks, but eventually abandoned it. This is not unusual for an inexperienced pair; it often takes a few seasons before they breed successfully. After their nest failed, Ranfurly and Nohoa wandered the Island for the rest of the season, though they seemed to concentrate on the area from Bush 1 to Spaghetti Junction. It is encouraging that they have remained together and so are likely to nest again next season.

There was also some disruption at the north end of the Island. Edge had a bad foot and had to spend a few days being treated at Auckland Zoo just around the time when she and Mungo would have been thinking of nesting. When she eventually nested the eggs turned out to be infertile - the first failure for this pair since 2010. We cannot know whether Edge's spell off the Island played a role in this. Their daughter from 2012-13, named Anatori, remained with them throughout the season (and is still there in April 2014). 

This left Te Mingi and Cheesecake as the only successful breeding pair in 2013-14. They produced one chick who quickly grew big and strong and has been seen with his/her parents around the Visitor Centre and Lighthouse for the past few months. We are expecting this chick to be banded and sexed in May.

At the end of April 2014 there are nine takahē on Tiritiri: Te Mingi, Cheesecake and their chick, Mungo, Edge and their daughter Anatori, Ranfurly, his partner Nohoa, and the lone Mahuika. 


Tiritiri takahē in 2014-15

In June 2014 we learned that Te Mingi and Cheesecake's juvenile was yet another son, their third. He was named Pukekohe in honour of Pukekohe School, whose art students had donated some wonderful prints for sale in the Island's shop.

Also in June, we greeted the arrival of a new bird, The Captain, as a partner for Mahuika. At 12, he was the same age as Mahuika and it was hoped they might have two or three successful breeding seasons before reaching 'retirement' age. Sadly, this was not to be. Just a few weeks later, after the pair had apparently been getting on very well, The Captain was found dead. The cause proved to be kidney failure, a condition he must already have been suffering from when he arrived on the Island.

We received more sad news, from Motutapu, in September; Greg and Cheesecake's daughter Ella had been found dead on Motutapu. In fact, only her leg was found, which suggests she was predated, probably by a harrier. She was Greg's last chick and there had been high hopes of her breeding this season with her partner Hemi.

In August we received another new bird, a two-year-old male called Turutu from Maungatautari. He was intended as a partner for Anatori, Mungo and Edge's daughter of the same age. The pair didn't 'gell', however, and after several weeks of wandering the Island he took up with Mahuika. They nested and produced a fertile egg, but it failed to hatch.

Meanwhile, Edge's partner Mungo sadly disappeared in late August, and when Ranfurley discovered she was unattached he moved in with her, abandoning Nohoa. This new pair also nested but their eggs were infertile.

Once again, this left Te Mingi and Cheesecake as our only successful breeding pair this season. Their 4th son, Mohio, was born in November. Big brother Pukekohe remained with his parents throughout the season and played a big part in Mohio's upbringing.

So the season ended with three pairs on the Island (Te Mingi and Cheesecake, Turutu and Mahuika and Ranfurley and Edge), plus two lone females - Nohoa and Anatori. The events of this season have taught us (as if we didn't know already) that however much we try to plan takahē partnerships, the birds will make up their own minds who they want to be with. Having had four breeding pairs in recent years, we are finding it difficult to achieve more than three at the moment. This is probably partly to do with their choice of territory. Apart from Edge who, first with Mungo and now with Ranfurley, favours the north end of the Island, most birds seem to want to be in the southern sector. This leaves vacant a large area in the centre, once occupied by Montague and Ahikaea. In recent years we have attempted unsuccessfully to establish first Ranfurley and Nohoa and then Anatori and Turutu in this area. Since Montague and Ahikaea were a very successful pair, it is hard to believe there is anything wrong with the habitat in this area. It may just be that all the males introduced in recent years have paired up with females who already had established territories, and so simply moved in with them.


Tiritiri takahē in 2015-16

As is often the case, late winter and early spring was an eventful period for Tiritiri takahē. Some of the events arose out of new knowledge acquire by the Recovery Team based at Te Anau. A new database enabled them to understand better the genetic composition of the entire takahē population, and they decided to try to manipulate pairings in order to maximise genetic diversity. Unfortunately this meant that our only productive pair for the past two seasons, Te Mingi and Cheesecake, had to be separated. It was decided to move Te Mingi and his two sons Pukekohe and Mohio to join the new population at Tawharanui, where they would help to equalise the sex ratio. The move took place in early September. After several weeks in their new home, Pukekohe was associating with two females but Te Mingi was going it alone, despite having two females nearby. Unfortunately, Mohio had to be moved to Auckland Zoo for treatment for a condition which made it hard for him to put on weight.

By the time the three males departed from Tiritiri, a lot had already happened in the takahē world, both on and off Tiritiri. Nohoa, who had been alone since Ranfurley abandoned her for Edge at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, attacked Mahuika and persuaded Turutu to join her instead. We have had plenty of evidence in the past of the aggressive nature of these birds, but on Tiritiri it has usually been squabbling between males. This was a battle between females, watched by the male, Turutu (and witnessed by several guides and visitors). It was the first of two such events to take place early this season. It is remarkable how easily takahē appear to switch their allegiance from one partner to another. A few moments of struggle determined Nohoa's superiority over Mahuika, and Turutu was apparently hooked.

Mahuika, alone once more and perhaps still suffering the effects of the battle, declined and sadly died a few weeks later. A post-mortem indicated kidney failure. Mahuika was nearly 13, which appears to be a dangerous age for takahē on Tiritiri. Mr Blue had died at 12, Blackwatch had been nearly 13 and Mungo nearly 12 when they disappeared. The Captain, who died on Tiritiri shortly after his arrival from Mana Island, was also 12. These events suggest that takahē on Tiritiri, and possibly on other dry islands (such as Mana) might be susceptible to kidney problems, perhaps because the natural water supply is low (though water is always provided for them). This possibility may be substantiated by blood tests taken on Te Mingi, Pukekohe, Mohio and Cheesecake before the family was split up; the results showed that all the birds had possible kidney issues.

Shortly after Mahuika's death we received devastating news. During a pukeko cull on Motutapu Island, three of the takahē raised on Tiritiri, together with their juvenile from 2014-15, had been accidentally shot. This was a terrible blow for the recovery programme, given that all were young birds and at the beginning of their productive lives. Their youngster was the first to be successfully raised on Motutapu. The Supporters felt the lost very deeply, as we had known the three adults personally and watched them grow up: Raumati (daughter of Montague and Ahikaea), Westy (son of Te Mingi and Cheesecake) and Ariki (son of Mungo and Edge). We need to bear in mind that this was a terrible mistake, and that huge efforts will be made to ensure that it never happens again. The Recovery Team showed their faith in the future of Motutapu as a takahē site by moving a new family into the territory left vacant by the tragedy.

The departure of her partner and two sons left Cheesecake alone for the first time on Tiritiri. As part of the new genetic management regime, a new male, Tussie, was introduced and penned up with her for a couple of weeks in September. As usual, things did not go according to plan. On the afternoon they were released from the pen, Anatori made her move and, by that evening, Tussie was with her and Cheesecake alone once more. While no battle was witnessed this time, we can assume it must have taken place, since both Cheesecake and Anatori showed signs of having been in a fight (while Tussie appeared untouched).

From a genetic perspective, the pairing of Tussie with Anatori is just as good as a pairing with Cheesecake would have been, and the pairing of Edge and Ranfurley also rates highly. Of our pairings, only Nohoa and Turutu rate poorly, so there may be an attempt to split them after the current breeding season.

As of early November 2015, Nohoa and Turutu have a nest and we believe Edge and Ranfurley also do, though we don't know where yet. Anatori and Tussie are still wandering the southern end of the Island together.

Shortly after that last update, Ranfurley sadly disappeared without trace, and Edge was left alone for a while. Nohoa’s nest failed, not uncommon for a young bird’s first attempt, and Turutu, headed north to join Edge. This relationship has had its ups and downs, though, with Turutu moving between Edge and Nohoa. He finally settled down with Edge at the start of the 2016-17 breeding season.

Meanwhile, Anatori and Tussie finally got down to nesting and produced a female chick. She was named Jenkins in honour of our long-standing ranger Dave Jenkins, who left the Island in October 2016.

 

Tiritiri takahē in 2016-17

We started the breeding season with two pairs, Edge and Turutu at the north end and Anatori and Tussie, still accompanied by their daughter Jenkins, in the lighthouse area. We also had the two single females, Nohoa, who spent most of the season close to the Ridge Road, presenting visitors with lots of photo opportunities, and Cheesecake, who frequented the area around Emergency Landing, though also visited the buidlings from time to time. Unfortunately, there were not enough males at secure sites to provide partners for these two. Cheesecake, in partlicular, is an important bird genetically, so DOC’s Recovery Team were keen to see her breed again.

Anatori’s first nesting attempt came to an end when the nest was trashed and the eggs dispersed, we suspect by pūkeko vigorously defending their own chicks. Fortunately this happened early enough for her to try again, this time successfuly. The result was Tūrama, a big, healthy juvenile. As is usually the case, his elder sibling, Jenkins, helped to bring him up.

Edge and Turutu also nested successfully this season, producing a daughter, Arataki. So we had two young takahē on the Island for the first time in some years.

In May 2017, we said goodbye to Cheesecake and Nohoa, who were moved down to Burwood. Cheesecake is to join the breeding programme there and Nohoa will probably be moved to Kahurangi National Park, where a new wild population is being established. We were very sorry to see them leave. Cheesecake had been on Tiritiri for 11 years, and Nohoa, though only on the Island for four years, had established herself as an excellent advocacy bird.

In August, we shall also lose the ‘Lighthouse family’ of Anatori, Tussie, Jenkins and Tūrama. Because these birds rate highly genetically, they will join the breeding programme at Burwood where, due to careful management, productivity is much higher than at other sites. In exchange, we have been promised a young pair, probably one that has not bred yet. So if all goes ahead as planned, we shall start the 2017-18 breeding season with Edge, Turutu and Arataki at the northern end of the Island, and a new pair who, we hope, will settle in the lighthouse area.