Bird News:


During early January, Jacqui Geux reported that our star, Mr Hot Pink on Beveridge Track, was still there and alone.

He was singing loudly high up in a rewarewa which looks over the Nihotupu Valley.

Maybe he's hoping his song will travel far and wide to attract a mate! (report and photo above: Jacqui Geux).


Also in early January, Jacqui Geux found an unbanded robin at Matuku Link. Its behaviour indicates it could be a female. The bird spent most of its time foraging on a rotten cabbage tree trunk growing through a totara, and also eating the large fungi that was growing on the cabbage tree (report and photo Jacqui Geux).


A very pleasant surprise yesterday was the discovery of a kōkako fledgling that was not previously known to exist. Its parents Francis and Zelah have become well known along Scenic Drive, nearby the Waitākere Dam Road, where several neighbouring houses have been reporting hearing and seeing them. However the birds managed to keep the fact that they were nesting secret! The three kōkako were seen yesterday on a Scenic Drive property feeding on a mahoe and then moving back together to the Ark side across the road (photo Amanda Rogers).

Looking back at 2017:

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to Ark in the Park in 2017!

It is hard to do justice in one email to all the work done both in the field and behind the scenes that contributes to keeping the Ark thriving. Below is a condensed version of the happenings of this year. We would like to thank you for making all of this possible.

This year we celebrated our 15th birthday!

We have expanded the Ark in both westerly and southerly directions. We started the year at 2100 hectares and finish it at 2270 hectares an increase of 170 hectares, 140 bait stations and 60 self resetting traps.

The buffer zone is also a hive of activity and our education and advocacy work is busier than ever.

Below we take a look back through the year season by season.


The year began with the completion of the baiting round followed by rat monitoring.

It was a summer of cyclones and even a tempest. This likely contributed to the fluctuating wasp numbers as revealed by our wasp monitoring results. For a second year Ark volunteers and Council Parks and Biosecurity staff assembled early in the morning and set off to bait the 420 wasp bait stations across the northern Ark.

John Staniland completed 10 years of bird count data and when all survey data is combined it shows that on average there are 50% more birds on the survey route within the Ark than at the nearby comparison site at Fairy Falls.

Whiteheads/pōpokotea were confirmed to be breeding within the Ark for the first time! Fledglings were found at Long Road.


Two overseas students arrived – Alessa from Germany and Kie from Japan. Both were hard working and we enjoyed having them. Alessa’s fascination with mud has become legendary!

The Biosecurity Bonanza provided an insight into developments in the biosecurity field, especially in relation to bio control for weeds. Manual weed removal by the weeding team created a space for thirteen species of fern and unusual plant to be planted in the newly created fernery.

Autumn is the peak of the Event season and the Ark attended 11 events, markets and festivals. Thanks to the crew of Ark Ambassadors for their enthusiasm in talking to people from all walks of life at these events. Its a valuable way to reach new audiences. The guided night walk was a big hit, being fully booked by members of the public who enjoyed seeing the nocturnal inhabitants of the Ark such as glow worms and puriri moths to name just a couple!


The wettest in 30 years (Source: Kevin Ferguson and his rain gauge)!

The winter baiting round was very challenging with the extremely wet weather and a number of sessions having to be cancelled due to extreme rain and/or wind.

To dry out and cheer ourselves up, we celebrated Ark’s 15th birthday with a gathering at Waitākere Golf Club! It was wonderful to have the full range of founders of the Ark present through to new volunteers. Maurice Colgan collated trap catch data for the life of the Ark, you can see a selection here.

The sanctuaries conference provided an opportunity to compare notes with other sanctuaries around New Zealand and discuss the role sanctuaries will play in the Predator Free 2050 goal.

The kōkako specialist group meeting was held and plans were made for the good of kōkako nationally. Topics discussed included translocations, egg swaps, genetics and guardianship of the important relic populations around the country. It remains the plan for the Ark to receive more kōkako from the King Country region in 2019, the number being dependent on next year’s census.

The Council’s Pest Free Auckland initiative was launched with a Pestival event at the Aotea Centre.

We joined the Matariki celebrations with 3 planting sessions at Pae o te Rangi farm.


This year, Spring greeted us not only with the usual colour burst of kowhai flowers, but also a spectacular flowering season for the tree daisy family. Tree daisy flowering and the beginning of the kōkako census usually go hand in hand and this year was no different.

The team of zoo contractors were supported by Ark volunteers to undertake the annual census. The census is carried out via a combination of foot surveys and recorder analysis. This census, the highest number of founder birds since kōkako were reintroduced were identified. 24 founder birds were identified, steady progress towards our target of 40 founders. 15 unbanded birds holding territories were also confirmed. There are 17 pairs so lets hope for a productive breeding season! Most pleasingly 6 out of the 7 chicks banded last season were found. This is an excellent survival rate and a good sign for the long term survivorship of kōkako in the Ranges.

Kōkako have been found at Fairy Falls and also on a property on Scenic Drive, to the delight of the owners.

The whitehead /pōpokotea survey was completed across 19 sites with birds confirmed at three locations: K block, Long Road and Arataki Visitors Centre. While whiteheads are not as numerous as we would hope, robins/toutouwai are now fantastically numerous across the Ark! The robin team are keeping a close eye on the nesting activity in certain known territories so we will most likely have robin chicks before the new year. Territories are shown on the latest robin map prepared by Karen Colgan (here).

Auckland Council undertook a possum control operation over 4800 hectares of the Waitākere Ranges. As part of this, the Council contractor installed Philproof bait stations to be used by the Ark in an area adjoining the current southern boundary. There are 140 new stations across an area of 140 hectares, thereby creating the new southern block named 'Nihotupu'. This area has now been baited twice and is home to numerous fernbirds and now nesting kōkako.

The Ark got into the spirit of conservation week with two events, firstly a trapping and kauri protection workshop and secondly a booked out dawn chorus walk along Cutty Grass track where kōkako were the star of the show.

The Ark also visited our neighbour Matuku Link to install bait stations on their newly navigated lines.


Kōkako nest finding is now underway by contractors supported by Ark volunteers. Three nests were found and monitored as well as having additional ‘ring of steel’ traps checked. Nests found so far are those of Maurice and Kowhai, Kiwitea and Unbanded and Ataahua and Unbanded. Unfortunately, the nests of two pairs were likely predated by harriers (Atahua and Unbanded, and Maurice and Kowhai). Two

chicks in the third nest were banded last Monday (Kiwitea and unbanded's nest). We hope the pairs whose nests were predated will soon begin rebuilding.

The new western block (named ' Pig Wallow' block after the stream running through the area) was created over several months and completed in November.

Six trap lines and a rat monitoring line were installed in the very dense bush adjoining the D extension bait lines. This new block covers 30 hectares. Two rat monitorings were carried out, both giving a result of 80%.

Ark in the Park is the first project up and running with Squawk Squad, a web app allowing people to donate traps to chosen sanctuaries. Through this, we were donated 60 traps which we have installed in the new block. These traps are fitted with sensors which report the catches in real time. Within the first week the traps triggered 50 times and 115 times as of today! A rat lure was used so its likely these triggers relate to rat catches.

On Saturday the 9th of December we gathered for the end of year BBQ and trapping refresher workshop. People asked questions and practiced handling a DOC200, a timms trap, a steve allan cat trap and a Goodnature trap. Thanks to Ken Harrop for the useful tricks and advice. Then we all enjoyed a lovely shared lunch and social occasion.

Of course many of the Ark activities carry on year round, the obvious ones being baiting, trapping, line maintenance and rat monitoring. Seed collection is carried out every two months and has been fully booked this year with groups visiting! Its a good introduction to being in the bush for large groups or people with limited bush experience.

The Bethells valley buffer zone is going strong with more properties involved and existing participants becoming more active. Participation and scope is also growing over on the Scenic Drive buffer zone.

The Weed Warriors also keep busy year round and have cleared large areas of blackberry, arundo grass, woolly nightshade and ginger.


We need to address the fact that sadly there are currently major plant diseases threatening the Waitākere Ranges.

These are myrtle rust and kauri dieback disease.

Myrtle rust has not so far been found in the Ranges and volunteers have been advised to look for possible signs of it and report it to MPI.

As mentioned in recent bulletins, Kauri dieback disease is spreading at an alarming rate through the Ranges, with the number of known infected trees going from 8% to 19% between 2011 and 2016. In response to this situation, the iwi Te Kawerau a Maki have placed a rāhui (customary closure) over the forested areas of the Waitākere Ranges and Auckland Council have closed a large number of tracks. Many tracks and trigene stations will be upgraded. The Ark continues to operate under a warrant granted by the iwi in recognition of the predator control work that is essential in protecting our forests from the threats of predators.

It is an evolving situation and we will continue to work with iwi and Council to ensure kauri are protected.

The Ark Celebrates 15 Years:

The Ark celebrated our 15th birthday on Saturday the 5th of August.

You can see some photos from the night on our facebook pagehere.

The fire was lit, people got refreshments from the bar and settled in to hear our guest speaker James Russell’s excellent talk. James works with Auckland University, the National small mammal challenge, ZIP and predator free NZ so he was able to give us an exciting insight into the possibilities of future predator control. James also had a humorous take on global events of the past 15 years for us to reflect on.

After the guest speaker there was a round of 15 bingo style questions relating to people’s experiences in the Ark. Well done to the winning table!

It was then time for soup, sandwiches and plenty of chat. The night wrapped up with birthday speeches from Gillian, Laurence, Karen Colgan, John Staniland and John Sumich followed of course with slices of birthday cake for all.

The final tally of guests was around 115 and it was great to see people from the early days of the Ark as well as some who had joined only the week before!

Thank you to all of you for coming and making it such an enjoyable night. In particular we would like to thank all the soup makers and cake bakers, as well as the people named below:

Rosemary Stagg: Catering manager

Wendy Callaway, Sheryl Tapp, Karen Colgan and Yvonne Vaneveld: Catering, serving and clean up assistants

Elaisa Glampe: DOC200 themed birthday cake baker

Colleen Pratt: Super vacuum cleaner operator

John Sumich: Bingo master

Annalily van den Broeke and Anko Hanse: Additional seating source and delivery

Mike Siddens and Zena: Set up and pack down whizzes

Ken Harrop: Catering assistant and parking warden

Maurice Colgan: Number cruncher who provided some great summary data of trap catches, we will circulate this in future bulletins

F&B Waitākere branch: projector and sound equipment loan

John & Karen Staniland: Lead singers in the rendition of Happy Birthday.

Thanks also to Josh at Waitākere Golf Club for being so hospitable.

Apologies to anyone we may have inadvertently left off the list.

Kokako Census:Kōkako korero chapter 8 - the end of the census!

The eight week kōkako census is now complete. Walk through surveys were carried out in G, K, D, T ridge lines, AWN, AWS, W, CGN, CGS, AWS, KOK, IW and the new N blocks. This was supplemented by recorder analysis followed up by foot survey in the R, F AN, T and U blocks.

Additional investigations were carried out at Fairy Falls, southern Ian Wells track and along the eastern side of Scenic Drive.

One of the founders, Kiwitea - Photo Deja Rivera

Thank you to Deja Rivera and Erin Grierson from Auckland Zoo who lead the census. Deja and Erin were supported by Ark volunteers Kevin Ferguson, Mark Darin, Grant Capill in the field. The census takes a lot of early mornings and hard field work. Eric Wilson helped behind the scenes with the recorder analysis which requires a lot of hours in front of the computer. We are very appreciative of all the dedication and enthusiasm!

Thanks also for the financial contribution provided by Auckland Zoo.

Final tally

Founders = 23

Frances, Rata & Te Ariki, Ataahua, Zelah, Aumangea &Thurley, Karen & Sylvain, Marty, Sophie & Pierre, Kowhai & Maurice, Tahi Kaha & Aroha, Totara, Puke, Ranginui & Gordon, Kiwitea, Manuka, Papari.

Total territorial pairs = 15

Of those 15, six are founder pairs, five are combined founder/unbanded pairs and four are unbanded pairs.

Ark progeny = 6

Indigo (offspring of Karen & Sylvain 2016/17)

Pūtahi (offspring of Karen & Sylvain 2016/17)

Nina (offspring of Kowhai & Maurice 2016/17)

Kohu (offspring of Pair#1 /IW10 2016/17)

Cloud (offspring of Marty & unbanded 2016/17)

Kapua (offspring of Marty & unbanded 2016/17)

Coming up next in the kōkako diary:

Dawn Walk on Saturday (now fully booked)

Nest searching

Kōkako will start building their nests soon!

The same contractor who completed the work for us last year (Dave Bryden and his field assistant Amanda Rogers) will start work in the next few weeks. When nests are found volunteer nest watchers and people to check the ‘ring of steel’ traps will be needed. So watch this space!

Rat Population Trends:

Thank you to trappers for sending through your catch reports, and to Maurice Colgan for compiling all the data. There is no sign of an undue build up of numbers at the edges of the Ark, and internal catches are tracking normally, with a steady drop since baiting was resumed in Spring.

Right now in the Ark...

Rodent baiting:

The early Summer baiting is now well underway. All indicators are showing a slightly higher ratpresence than usual.

Robin Monitoring:


Every year since the first release of 53 robins in 2005 Ark volunteers (with overseas students a key element) have sought out nest sites and monitored the breeding success of the pairs - typically three clutches of 2-3 chicks per season. In the 2010 breeding season we located the nests of 11 pairs (and of course there will be a lot more we didn't discover), and new nesting territories, thanks to the efforts of volunteers who have spread out and found where the birds have settled. Anyone who is interested in helping should contact our Volunteer Coordinator. Volunteers need to have time available Monday to Friday, and to be fit enough to move off-track through our steep and slippery bush.

These birds are some of the most charming to be found in the New Zealand bush, with their quiet inquisitive nature making them easy to study and enjoy. Above is a picture taken recently by one of our star robin-finders, Grant Capill, who is shown to the right, hard at work or, just possibly, asleep.

Heidrun and Keryn have been doing a magnificent job on the Auckland City walk finding and protecting robin nests from stoats with John Stewart helping to band fledglings. On one day Heidrun saw 15 birds and one chick!

Rodent Monitoring:

Thanks to those of you who helped with rat monitoring. The April results are now in!

Rat monitoring inside the Ark: 19% (last monitoring in February gave a result of 6.4%)

Rat monitoring outside the Ark: 90% (last monitoring in February gave a result of 65%)

The rat presence outside the Ark is very high at the moment and we can hope that the double bagging at the periphery is helping to limit the rat re-invasion.

Meanwhile, the Stoaters continue to tramp around their circuits, with 88 stoats, 30 weasels, 2 ferrets, 27 hedgehogs, and 419 ratscaught in the year ending 30 June 2017.

Then there's the teams attacking weeds, navigators extending lines to fill in gaps..

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