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Watching out for the weka

Published: 30 August 2018
  • Wekawatch team off on weka counting trip
  • Members of the Wekawatch team setting trap in forest

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The wild world of weka!

In the wilds of Kawakawa, a team of neighbours have banded together to protect and conserve the rare North Island weka.

Although most people have never seen them because they're so rare, these birds live a mere 60km from the CBD.

Rare, flightless and once widespread, they can now only be found in natural populations in the hills between Opotiki and Motu (Poverty Bay) and was reintroduced back into Kawakawa Bay area. As the group comments, “It’s harder to get into a weka area than a kiwi area!”

This ecological project is one of many being undertaken across the region by community groups in an endeavour to keep our threatened species safe.

For weka in its flightless state, ferrets and stoats are their biggest threat as they prowl the forest floor. Rats and hedgehogs also cause damage as they not only hunt the endangered bird but compete for food.

Weka foraging on bush track
Weka foraging on bush track

Predator control with Wekawatch

Wekawatch run ongoing predator control in their 'patch' including trapping and eliminating pests, maintaining over 13km of trap line, working to raise awareness of this unusual species and organising weka counts of the scarce population across 11 sites.

Rosemary Cotman, one of the founding members of Wekawatch, is excited by how the original small group of 'wekawatchers' has grown since 2005. 

But they can’t do the work alone.

“What’s crucial to our success is how many people are involved. While it's a small group, they’re all important; all contribute.

"It really is a community effort, they’re all heroes including council biodiversity and biosecurity staff who’ve been so supportive of our work.”

“So, here we are, trying to get people to protect a species they’ve never even laid eyes on! But we keep at it – after all, the weka were here before we were.”  

To find out how you can become involved, visit Wekawatch or their Facebook page