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The newsletter for members of Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience

We’ve enjoyed some remarkable highlights over the last year; banding our 400th kaka chick, more than doubling our number of known breeding kakariki pairs and confirming a successful eradication of introduced fish from our upper lake and tributaries are just a few of the year’s conservation achievements. We can now begin to raise the profile of native freshwater species with sanctuary visitors, aided by support from the Wellington Community Trust. Their $8,000 grant enables us to complete an engineering and feasibility study for an enhanced freshwater viewing area. This will be a great new asset to help our visitors engage with an often overlooked eco-system. Summer 2012-13 saw our best cruise ship and wedding season yet, providing strong financial support for our restoration and education goals. Our total visit numbers were 6% under budget, but our visitor revenue is expected to come in much closer to target. Also pleasing are the continuing successes in our education activities. It is great to be able to reach beyond the fence, with the launch of the Halo Project partnership with the Kelburn School community. This project takes our knowledge to the heart of community action for restoring local biodiversity. Our volunteers continue to make a tremendous contribution to the sanctuary’s work – well illustrated in the latest story about their crucial efforts overcoming recent storm damage to the fence. Volunteer effort is central to our successes.

Our enhanced partnership with Wellington City Council (WCC) As you know, last year’s consultation with WCC confirmed the City’s desire to see Zealandia tackle its challenges and use its position as a natural treasure to serve Wellington well. In July 2012 Council and Zealandia formed an enhanced partnership, and since then a lot of work has gone in to setting up for the new arrangements, and for our future sustainability: A new Board of Trustees has been formed. A new group of Guardians has been formed, made up of four elected directly by our members and three appointed by key stakeholders Wellington City Council, Victoria University and local iwi. Council has acknowledged Zealandia’s value to Wellingtonians and our living city by providing base level funding to maintain Zealandia’s financial security from July 2012 to June 2015.

Developments Accessibility and connections matter. Together, the new Board and Zealandia staff have been hard at work determining how best to make Zealandia more affordable to locals, and how to make our membership more relevant, easier and more rewarding for people to lend their support. We are aiming to implement some carefully considered changes this spring.

JUNE 2013 No. 48

Dear Members

Research is central to our vision. We continue discussions with Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) around options for co-location of staff and students at Zealandia. This partnership opens up exciting possibilities for visitors to experience our living laboratory. The discussions also raise questions about how we best use our space. It’s a challenge that includes meeting the needs of our own staff who are still in the “temporary” bungalows first occupied 18 years ago. These are crowded, and difficult to keep warm and dry in winter so we need a better solution. From a recent headline review of visitor experience, we’ve had some good pointers about the needs of our visitors. While many of you are very familiar with the site, first timers sometimes find the flow of our Visitor Centre confusing. There are other suggestions for things we can do to improve positive engagement. For example, we need to cater well for those where time, or other factors, mean they can only manage a short walk. We’ll be drawing up a plan which will let us roll out actions over time. So there is a lot happening, and keeping the communication going through a time of change is vital. Trustee and foundation member Pam Fuller now has a special role leading the Board’s liaison with sanctuary “alumni” and supporters, with a particular focus on those who contributed in the early days of the sanctuary and may find it more difficult to keep up an active link. This is just one way we intend to enhance communications with our members and volunteers. Your support for the sanctuary and our work is vital. In turn, we value your ideas and your comments, so please stay warmly connected with us.

Denise Church, Chair.

Natasha Petkovic-Jeremic, Acting CEO.

If you haven’t booked yet see the details on the back page.

22 Jul - 3 Sep

BE SIROCCO’S PERSONAL ESCORT Enter our prize draw for your chance to escort Sirocco from Wellington airport and release him at Zealandia!

Mike Bodie / DOC

Jo Moore

Memories to last a lifetime – the night you met a kakapo! YouTube sensation Sirocco is one of just 124 of these charming flightless parrots left on the planet. All kakapo live on protected islands so don’t miss this rare chance to meet him at Zealandia.

NATURE ROUNDUP Early in the year, results from fish sampling after our 2011 freshwater restoration operation, in collaboration with DOC, confirmed trout have been successfully eradicated from our upper lake and tributaries. A dramatic increase in numbers of whitebait and juvenile banded kokopu and koura (freshwater crayfish) have been observed. David Moss (DOC) called the recovery of native freshwater fauna “spectacular.” “Before the operation there were a few big banded native kokopu, very few whitebait and hundreds of trout in the streams,” he said. Our Conservation Manager Raewyn Empson is delighted with the results.

A survey of pateke (brown teal) at the sanctuary, using overnight camera traps, has shown promising results. Pateke were confirmed in most stream catchments by intern Katie Sheridan, who will return to study the species for a Masters thesis with support from the Margaret and Jim Collins Research Fund. Understanding their spatial and temporal patterns of use of the forest habitat will be useful in assessing potential sites for future transfers.

Andrew Digby has wrapped up three years of research into kiwi for his PhD at Victoria University. As part of his study he monitored little spotted kiwi calls at Zealandia and discovered more about their behaviour to help provide new tools for their conservation. His findings were recently featured in the world’s leading ornithological journal, Ibis. Among other findings Digby found that “male and female kiwi

Andrew Digby

“This breakthrough means we can now start planning to enhance the recovery of the upper reservoir and its tributaries by transfers of other native fish – such as the threatened giant kokopu” she said.

appear to call for different reasons, with male kiwi using their calls for long-range purposes, such as defending their territory from other kiwi, and female birds using calls for close-range purposes, like staying in contact with their partners.”

Digby isn’t alone in listening for bird calls - the 2013-16 Ornithological Society of New Zealand ‘five-minute bird counts’ have begun, following on from previous count series here in 1995-98 and 2002-05. These counts help us monitor bird populations at the sanctuary, including those that are non-native or not usually monitored by conservation staff.

ENTERTAINMENT BOOKS RAISE FUNDS FOR FLORA & FAUNA Offers in the 2013 | 2014 Wellington Entertainment Book are valid to 1 June 2014 so there’s still plenty of time to get lots of value from all the great deals around Wellington.

Buy through Zealandia so that $12 of the $60 price goes to helping us bring the birdsong back to Wellington. Buy from our Store, or online at

KĀKĀRIKI MAKE SUCCESSFUL COMEBACK In July 2010 we made a transfer of kakariki (red-crowned parakeet) from Kapiti Island, with support from W N Pharazyn Trust. Two more transfers followed in May and July 2011. The sanctuary kakariki have now increased their known breeding pair numbers from six in 2010-11 to thirteen in 2012-13, with over 260 individuals banded so far. Conservation Officer Richard Gray has observed a number of interesting results over the last three years. “Some of the birds dispersed beyond the sanctuary fence, which we expected. They continue to be reported around Otari Wilton’s Bush and Karori Cemetery. We also started to see a few unbanded kakariki from surrounding areas visiting and mating with the transferred birds. We know they can fly from Matiu/Somes Island in the harbour and perhaps from further afield” says Gray. “Kakariki are notoriously hard to track. They definitely keep us on our toes” says Conservation Manager Raewyn Empson. In the past season transmitters were attached to 15 birds temporarily to help staff find nests and monitor behaviour. Using this method one bird was found to be nesting 200m east of Zealandia at Denton Park Reserve and ten birds led staff to nests within the sanctuary.

We also take photos when a bird is captured; hoping to use the under-wing patterns - which vary between individuals - to find a gender and age determination method for relatively non-invasive monitoring in the future. The best place to see kakariki is at their supplementary feeders on the Jim & Eve Lynch Track. More often heard than seen, their chatter is easily recognised and can be played at:


Rob Masters

Around 200 students from Te kura o Otari put in a mighty effort this month, braving the conditions to plant 3,000 hardy native trees at Ian Galloway Park - right on the flight path for birds travelling between OtariWilton’s Bush and Zealandia - for Arbour Day, 5 June. The planting day was run jointly by Wellington City Council, Zealandia and schools. Photo: Education Guide Ben Smith shows the kids how it’s done.

A CACOPHONY OF KĀKĀ With over 200 kaka in the Wellington population today we’ve reached a point where we can now scale back our monitoring.

Kerry Charles

“We’ve got a good foundation set of data on kaka now. Their numbers are steadily increasing – as any local with kaka in their garden will have noticed,” says Conservation Manager Raewyn Empson. Rather than give each new kaka chick a different leg-band colour combination they will instead be given just one ‘cohort’ colour, identifying which year they were born. In January a kaka chick successfully fledged from a nest beyond the sanctuary at Prince of Wales Park. The nest was discovered by Zealandia Conservation Officer Matu Booth, who runs another local community restoration programme in his spare time. Matu took on a guardian role for the chick; it takes young kaka some time to develop their wing muscles, often spending time hiding on the ground between practice flights. Early one morning he found him only metres from where a cat was hunting.

Urban kaka are the subject of Kerry Charles’ Masters thesis: Urban human-wildlife conflict: North Island kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis) in Wellington City. You can read an interview with Kerry as she chats to Zealandia’s own Alfie Kaka about the way these birds feed on sap, over on our blog:

STORM DAMAGE The storm that caused so much damage to Wellington this month created an emergency at Zealandia when a large pine tree crashed through the perimeter fence on Sunday morning, 23 June.

“There was a great response from everyone. They just did what was necessary to get the job done. The tree fell in a difficult spot, about as far from our operations shed and access roads as it could have been. Our volunteer Dave Watt came in as he always does – he’s a vital member of the team with great practical skills highly valuable in a situation like this. The good folks at Rata Café kept us supplied with a steady stream of scones and hot drinks, which were very much appreciated too.

OUR TUESDAY TRACK TEAM & OTHER STORIES Zealandia’s Tuesday Track Team is a small band of hard-working heroes that come together every Tuesday morning to make sure you don’t hit your head or get snagged in the bush on your sanctuary stroll; with over 30km of tracks in the valley they have a lot of ground to cover and lots of extra work since the storm. Read about the team at our blog. Other recent stories cover how our decommissioned dam came to the rescue of parched local sports fields, how a local business is helping our pest-exclusion fence last longer, a behind-the-scenes chat with conservation staff gearing up for Sirocco the kakapo’s arrival and lots more: & &

Rob Masters

Volunteers and staff successfully responded to the situation, starting with fence walkers Sue Rundle and Dave Heatley, who were first to find the damage and call it in to Facilities Manager Russ Drewry.

It was 10pm by the time everyone went home,” said Russ. We are monitoring for pests and so far none have been detected. Read more at


22 July - 3 September Have you met a kakapo yet? Don’t miss this rare chance to meet Sirocco at Zealandia. Book your date with a living legend now:







Children (3-17yrs)



Families (2 adults & up to 3 children) Children under 3



FREE with accompanying adult


15, 16 & 17 August Not just the living legend but legendary food to match. Adult $89. Child (10-17yrs) $69. 25% member discount. Book with



Dr Kevin Burns presents. Non-members welcome.



Varies each day so join one day or all four.

7.30pm. Thursday 19 September (TBC).

Eat. Drink. Support our wildlife. Table service, new comfy couches and lots going on at Rata...

FAIRYTALES AND FLUFFIES 10.30am, alternate Thursdays, 4, 18 July; 1, 15, 29 August. Fun and free interactive sessions with stories, songs and rhymes at Rata Café. One free fluffy with every tea or coffee! Best suited for children 2 – 5 yrs.

JUNE - OCTOBER SPECIALS HIGH TEA - $25-30, 4th Sunday of the month. Book by Friday. FISH & CHIP FRIDAYS - $22 with Tuatara beer, $15 without. BIG BREAKFAST SATURDAYS - $15 with tea/coffee or OJ.


Mondays & Tuesdays. July – September. Warm your bones and treat your tastebuds. Complimentary entrée-sized soup of the day with roll and butter, followed by your choice of: Warm Roast Beetroot and Haloumi Salad V, GF $15 Blue Cheese Risotto V, GF $15.50 Cottage Pie $16


Our fun Junior Rangers school holiday programme is back. Full and half day options will leave your adventurous 5-12 year olds buzzing about our amazing ecosystems. $30 - $65. Booking essential. 10% member discount. 10% off when you book all four days. Full details:

KIDS’ NIGHT ADVENTURES 16, 17 & 18 July. 5.30pm – 7pm. A 90-minute after-dark expedition into the forest, specially designed for kids aged 7 to 12 years old. $15/child (7-12 yrs). $30/adult. Booking essential. Full details:


Simon Woolf leads these photography workshops for the kids. Ages: 10 – 15 years. $30 per child. Booking essential. Full details:

TELL YOUR FRIENDS... $10 WINTER WARMER Every day July-August Explore our exhibition for just $10. FREE CHILD ADMISSION WITH A MAIN AT RATA CAFÉ 15 - 26 July

Free child admission when purchasing a main at Rata Café.

Booking essential. More at

DAD GOES FREE ON FATHER’S DAY Sunday 7 September Free admission for dad when purchasing a main at Rata Café.

Free with admission

• “Walk & Talk” tours with our Ranger Guides. Leaving from the pontoon: Weekdays: 11:15 & 1:15. Weekends: 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 & 2:15. • Species talks: 1:15 takahe, 2:15 robins, 3:15 tuna (eels). • Boat rides across the lower lake, weekends (subject to availability, gold coin donation). • Morning Star mine and cave weta, weekends (subject to availability).

BUGGIES GO BUSH Meet new mums and dads, Wednesdays 10:30am. Members: Free. Non-members: $10.

Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience 31 Waiapu Road Karori, PO Box 9267 Wellington Tel: (04) 920 9200 Email: for the latest news and events or email us to sign up for free monthly e-newsletters.

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16, 17, 18 & 19 July

Kererū - Issue 48  
Kererū - Issue 48