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Meeting to promote conservation of keas

July 18th, 2015
[DOC press release]

An opportunity to learn more about the inquisitive kea, and the role communities may have to play in its future survival, is coming to Motueka.

Tamsin Orr-Walker, Chair of the Kea Conservation Trust, will be presenting a community talk at 7pm on Thursday 23 July at the Motueka Sports Pavilion.

Tamsin will be visiting 10 South Island communities, delivering school talks and community discussions as part of the Trust's 8th Winter Advocacy Tour.

This year's theme, 'Building a Future with Kea', will look at how communities can become directly involved in long-term kea conservation initiatives through signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU aims to 'change the way we think, act and live with kea in our communities'.

Leigh Marshall, DOC Biodiversity Ranger Motueka, says that kea are unique to the South Island of NZ and are the only mountain parrot in the world.

"Kea were almost exterminated during a government-sponsored bounty extending over 100 years, and they are now listed as nationally endangered. There are an estimated 5,000 individuals remaining across 3.5 million hectares."

To survive in the harsh alpine environment, kea have become inquisitive and nomadic social birds. This trait helps them to find and utilise new food sources but in the modern world brings risks from new unhealthy food sources and conflict with people.

Stoats and other predators are also a major risk to survival, particularly during breeding as kea make their nests on the ground.

Tamsin Orr-Walker says that urgent action and support by local communities is considered a necessity if the keas' slippery slope into oblivion is to be halted.

"The legacy of negative perception for kea continues to prove difficult to shake. Communities are often polarised when it comes to their local kea. We have literally seen a room divided with those who love having these charismatic parrots in their backyard and are happy to kea-proof their property, and those people who consider 'the only good kea is a dead kea'.

"This MOU will be a defining point where communities can show their support for their local kea populations - or not."

Also speaking at the meeting will be Andrea Goodman, the Motueka-based Conflicts Resolution Community Coordinator for the Trust. Andrea provides practical advice and support with managing kea issues at the local level.

The free community talks and discussions are open to anyone interested in the future of kea and the role their community may have to play in its survival.

"This is an opportunity to have your say about the role you wish to play in the future of our most interactive species - it is a defining moment in the species' conservation, so please come along and join in the conversation," says Tamsin.

A gold coin donation is appreciated and will go directly into education material for local schools and educators.


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