Another successful translocation exercise of Tieke (north island saddleback) was carried out on Sunday March 29 at both Urupukapuka and Moturua Islands of Ipipiri, with thanks and appreciation to the many people who were responsible.

The return of the tieke is part of the Project Island Song restoration of Ipipiri.  Project Island Song is a partnership between local Hapu Ngati Kuta and Patukeha, Guardians of the Bay of Islands and DOC, with the support of Explore Group and many others. The mainland restoration and pest control programme of Te Tangi o Te Ata helps to protect the pest free islands of Ipipiri and  our people play an important role in this as the tieke will be particularly vulnerable to any pests that get to the islands.

Richard Robbins coordinated the tieke translocation with the support of Guardians Chair Fleur Corbett and Blandy Witehira as well as DOC staff Rolien Elliot, Andrew Blanshard, Adrian Walker, Angela Newport and Helen O’Dealy. Dr Kevin Parker headed the catching, caring and transferring of the birds.

Our boys Alvin Rewha and Rana Rewha had gone to Mauimua (Lady Alice Island) to attend and bring the birds back, 40 in all, 20 for Moturua and 20 for Otehei (Urupukapuka)

We all gathered at Te Tawa Bay to await the arrival of the two barges to transport us all to the relevant islands.   The Otehei ones  on one barge, with the Moturua ones on the other one. Although there were different destinations, the tieke were being released simultaneously. Our ones arrived by helicopter to Otehei with Rana. The helicopter then continued to Moturua with Kevin and the remaining birds.

The ground outside the ‘shop’ was arranged so that the tieke release guests (who were all the  volunteers who help with Project Island Song) could be accorded a powhiri led by Robert and Louise Clarke and whanau.

The taumata consisted of Jamie Tukukino who did the opening karakia followed by  nga Kai korero Robert Clarke and Hiko Tauariki who were both accompanied by waiata from Jackie Clendon Rewha and the hunga kainga.   Richard Witehira replied for the Guardians guests and again, we did the same for him.

We then awaited the arrival of the birds by helicopter with Rana who had been in training to handle them.   There were four boxes holding 5 birds each and Rolien Elliot had organised the ones to release them into the bush.

My mokopuna Teina and I released the first 5 for Te Rawhiti,  representatives from the Baker whanau did the second lot, Helen Ough Dealy and Lindsay Alexander released the next lot of birds to acknowledge their contribution to the project and as an early wedding prsent.  William  Goodfellow’s wife and children did the next.

Hone and Gloria Martin did the powhiri at Moturua to welcome the birds  – and the Project Island Song volunteers.

Hone related a story about the Tieke.  Maui had a pet tieke that sat on his shoulder while he made flax ropes and nets.  He had a plan to catch the sun and beat it into submission to prolong the daylight hours.  When Maui caught the sun in his net, the bird followed him and Maui told him several times to go home as he feared the heat of the sun would burn his pet.  The bird wouldn’t leave and Maui, whose hands were burnt by the heat of the captured sun, grabbed the bird and threw it back to earth.  That is why the Tieke has a burnt back.

Mayron Wihongi released 5 birds in memory of her grandfather, the late Jackie Maioha, whose whanau (and mine!) owned Moturua, before they were forced to sell their home because they couldn’t afford the exhorbitant rates that the Council imposed.

Marion Goodfellow, Anthea Goodwin and Duncan and Kate Spokes (Heatley caretakers) released the others.

It was delightful to see a flash of black and orange fly out of the cages into the sanctuary of the adjacent bush, accompanied by my karanga of welcome –

“Tena kotou nga taonga o Tane, kua tae mai ki to kainga hou, meinga to kotou noho kia rangimarie, kia whai uri hoki kotou/matou”  (welcome to you all, the treasures of the Forest of Tane, you have arrived to your new home, may you find peace here and-may you and we be blessed with fledglings for the future)

In one of the boxes, one of the birds was a bit stressed and did not fly out immediately like the other ones, and despite Rana’s care it sadly passed away and its wairua was blessed by Hone Martin on its final journey.

No reira e te whanau me nga whanaunga noho ora mai kotou i roto i nga manaakitanga a te Runga Rawa.

Therefore, whanau and whanau connections remain in the blessings of our highest Being in the Heavens.


Na te kuia nei o te marae o Te Rawhiti.