Summary Page: Kōkako: restoring birdsong to Mt Pirongia
Term 2 starting 19 June 2018.
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On this field trip you join a 20-year public conservation movement at its most joyous time, as kōkako return!
Why in 1999, did the Reserve Bank put the kōkako and Pureora Forest, on its $50 note? Answer: in the early 1900s kōkako were common in forests all over New Zealand but 90 years later, there were just 330 mating pairs left. The famous song of the organ birds, as kōkako were known, 'is flung ... from the tops of trees at dawn; it fills the sky, and then settles like a huge blanket down through their forest territories' (ecologist John Innes). That haunting song was destined to disappear.
In the 1990s on Mt Pirongia, a public campaign had the last of the kōkako there removed so they wouldn't die out. The kōkako as a species was seriously declining in number across the North Island as logging, land clearance for agriculture and predators all took their toll. A lot of hard work by scientists, the Department of Conservation, iwi and community groups over the past 25 years has now seen a recovery of kōkako numbers.
During this field trip you will journey alongside a community group returning some of the Pirongia lineage kōkako back to their home on Mt Pirongia. Re-establishing a self-sustaining population on Mt Pirongia means paying attention to genetic diversity so population founders will come from Tiritiri Matangi Island and Pureora Forest; these widespread locations will help to maximise a healthy gene pool.
You will experience the fieldwork involved in capturing these birds safely in remote Pureora Forest and caring for them while they are transported and released to their new home on Mt Pirongia. You will also learn the detail of the Pirongia lineage birds, how
they were cared for and how it is now possible to bring them back to their former home. This will be the second return of Kōkako to Mt Pirongia.
On this field trip you will visit a community who stood to lose the call of the kōkako forever. By working with volunteers and landowners, controlling pests and reintroducing native species they have achieved their ultimate goal of bringing their maunga back to life.
To prepare for this field trip, LEARNZ content will support inquiry into:
- kōkako as a native species of Aotearoa New Zealand
Lifecycle of kōkako
Adaptations of kōkako
kōkako habitat and habitat restoration
Threats to kōkako
Importance of kōkako to Māori
How you can help kōkako
During this field trip you will:
- Follow Shelley's tweets on twitter
Join researchers on their search for kōkako in Pureora Forest
Carefully net and capture adult kōkako
Transport kōkako out of the forest to Mt Pirongia
Join the ceremony to release kōkako
Meet the volunteers and workers who have transformed Mt Pirongia
Hear the haunting call and understand why the bird is called kōkako
Meet scientists, local iwi and other experts who work with kōkako recovery
Find out how the community is involved in saving kōkako
After the field trip, challenge yourself to:
- Educate others about kōkako
Find a local conservation project you could join
Influence others to support kōkako
Visit a place that has kōkako
Join an organization or subscribe to a magazine that helps kōkako
Do something to help a native species near you
Where you will go
You will fly into Hamilton and drive 30km west, to the small village of Pirongia. The village sits in the shadow of Mt Pirongia/Pirongia-o-Te Aroaro-ō-Kahu, an extinct volcano and the highest point at 959m, in the Waikato. 80km south east of Mt Pirongia, is Pureora Forest Park near Lake Taupo. Pureora forest was protected from logging in 1978 and is recognised as one of the finest rain forests in the world, with trees over 1,000 years old. Note: weather and other factors out of our control may influence activities during the field trip.
Teacher comments about related field trips
"It was wonderful having a bird students already had contact with to focus our inquiry skills of research, communication and self-regulation. There is an excellent balance of texts and photos which can be related to all the learning needs in my class. The field trip was so relevant and the format easy to use." Deborah Lamont from Methven School
"My students learned heaps about kea and the amazing people working with them. Students love these virtual field trips which provide for different levels of learning at the same time. We asked questions, did shared and independent reading, did shared and independent topic writing, art, technology, poetry and incorporated measurement and mapwork into this study topic." Martie Andrew from Awakeri School
"We have a strong interest in native birds at our school and this field trip fits in with the value 'ecological sustainability' and the "future focus" principle. I've used it as a science context but also as a high-interest and friendly reading and viewing resource." Jane Pearson from Hira School
"It supported teaching about the principles and values of the NZC for this group of 5-10 year old students, who are a part of the school's environmental team. It has been a driver for these students to form connections with those experts in our community who can support their projects, such as biosecurity officers at the regional council and local iwi." Carol Tyson from Hurupaki School
Go to more comments from teachers about similar field trips.
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or to invite a guest speaker, or to present what they have learned to a school assembly or wider group.
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the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.
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adaptations of birds, biodiversity, birds, competition, conservation, environment, habitat, kōkako, kōkako recovery, life cycle, native birds, pest control, predators, protected environments, recovery programme, threatened species