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Source: Auckland Council

40 hihi (stitchbird) will be released on New Zealand Defence Force land within Shakespear Open Sanctuary on Friday 3 July, representing a major achievement for the regional park.

“Having hihi join little spotted kiwi and tīeke (saddleback) is a real thrill for us and shows that the pest-free open sanctuary can support locally and nationally significant wildlife,” says Matt Maitland, Auckland Council’s Senior Ranger, Open Sanctuaries.

He says that partnerships with community partner Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society (SOSSI), and landowners the NZ Defence Force and Watercare Services, have been key to the return of the hihi.

SOSSI Chair Peter Jackson agrees.

“Returning hihi to this part of the Auckland mainland is a fantastic milestone for us.

“It is a great reward for years of effort by community volunteers to make the site safe and suitable for this beautiful and rare species”.

The reintroduction from Tiritiri Matangi has been funded by SOSSI fundraiser concert ‘Swing on the Green’ hosted by Gulf Harbour Country Club and a grant from Foundation North. 

Returning the hihi will be supported by scientists to ensure the new inhabitants have the best opportunity to flourish.

“We’re always looking for new homes for hihi where they can be safe, their numbers can grow, and they can be seen by New Zealanders and visitors. We’ve assessed the sanctuary and believe Shakespear shows great potential to support a managed hihi population,” says Mhairi McCready, Conservation Officer for the Hihi Conservation Charitable Trust.

Landowner the NZ Defence Force are delighted to have been able to help.

“Tamaki Leadership Centre is a unique environment and we are honoured to work alongside Auckland Council to protect the hihi from extinction. We look forward to hearing their calls and seeing them around the base,” says Royal NZ Navy spokesperson Commander Ange Holland.

Hihi are the fifth absent bird species to be reintroduced into the sanctuary since pest eradication began in 2011.