|This picture shows the North Island Weka, of which there could be approximately 3,500 on Kawau Island. In 1972 30 birds from the Gisborne district were released on Kawau by the Wildlife Service and by 1985 they had spread throughout the Island. The Kawau population is the largest and is estimated to be more than half the number of this species in New Zealand.|
The North Island kaka is fairly often seen on the Island, but like the bellbird its presence is compromised by the limited and disrupted food supply through the seasons at present due to depletion of the Island's flora. Bellbirds were quite common in the 1950's but their numbers quickly plummeted soon after that. Pateke too returned to Kawau in 1992 as a result of the Trust's operations, but while their status is probably still transitory or non-permanent it provides a significant sign for the future.
The kereru is increasing in numbers as an early sign of recovery. In the normally functioning ecosystem kereru will play an important role in regeneration by dispersing seeds of the fruiting native trees and shrubs. Of course, at present most of the seedlings from kereru dispersal are being destroyed by browsing animal pests.
From about 1998 increasing numbers of calls from the North Island brown kiwi have been heard on the Island.
As animal pests are eradicated experience is that native bird and invertebrate numbers will recover very significantly. Responses have already occurred in some areas. Some species will establish naturally on Kawau Island from colonies as far away as Tiritiri Matangi and Hauturu and if ship rats, feral cats, and stoats can be eradicated the prospects are that rare birds such as North Island kokako and North Island saddleback and North Island robin for example could be introduced. The saddleback and possibly the stitchbird and robin might even arrive and establish of their own accord as numbers increase on Tiritiri and the birds look for a new home like the kaka, bellbird and pateke are doing already.
One day Kawau might even be a home for introduced takahe.
The Trust has some concerns about ground nesting birds in the presence of weka but that is a story for another time.