The Return of Toutouwai

The 8th of April 2009 was a very special day as the North Island Robin (Toutouwai) was reintroduced to the Northern Coromandel. Prior to their reintroduction the Robin had been regionally extinct for around 100 years.

Moehau Environment Group volunteers joined with over 100 locals, local and Pureora iwi, and the Department of Conservation to witness natural history in the making. 60 of these beautiful birds were released, 30 at Stony Bay and 30 at our Rat Attack Project site at Port Charles.

The release was the culmination of years of planning and hard work by volunteers from Moehau Environment Group and DoC. Without strong partnerships and cooperation between community groups, iwi and DoC none of this would have been possible.

Leading up to the translocation Moehau Environment Group volunteers, an iwi representative and DoC staff worked together in teams over two weeks training the birds for capture at Pureora. Over 23,000 meal worms were used in the training phase. Fine weather and great teamwork made the training and capture phase run like clockwork. Once captured the robins were housed in customised boxes and transported to Stony Bay for their release.

North Island Brown Robin (Toutouwai)

In May 2011 another 31 Robin were translocated from Pureora to Stony Bay . This top up was planned at the start of the project to broaden the genetic base increasing the long term viability of the Toutouwai population on Moehau. This time volunteers from Moehau Environment Group and Maungatautari assisted with the capture of the birds at Pureora and local school kids helped construct boxes specially designed to provide a comfortable and safe journey.

So far at least 16 of the birds from the original reintroduction have bred on Te Moehau, so re-establishing the Toutouwai population is looking good.

It has taken many years of predator control with particular focus on rats to make this habitat safe for these birds to return. Moehau Environment Group volunteers have monitored Robin at Stony Bay every 2 weeks between August 2011 and January 2012, reporting on sighting, bands and behavior.

If you see Toutouwai – North Island Robin, please let us know. This will help us keep track of their progress.