Stewart Island’s gentle Kaka

Hi Everybody. I thought I would share a few photo’s showing the wonderful Halo effect on Stewart Island.

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These are Brent and Kari’s children in Oban. Iluka below in blue is nearly 1 ½ and Lyall is about 3 ½ in the photo above. Both wonderful Stewart Island kids are feeding Kaka by hand.

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Keri, their mum, tells us

The girls fly in most afternoons, usually just two of them, at different times of the afternoon, though occasionally the “gang” will come and try their luck with us too. They have been visiting us each winter for almost five years. In return for the chance to spend time close to one of New Zealand’s beautiful treasures, we give them pieces of our fruit.

One day, as breeding season approached, each one turned up their noses at our offering and waited patiently while it dawned on us that they needed more of a protein-kick at that time of year, and brought them some seeds. They visited right through the breeding season and towards the end, brought their fledglings round to meet us. We justify giving them a helping hand through winter by considering how many of their food trees are excluded in the space our house takes up. If just once our help makes the difference for a fledgling to survive, then I am happy. As for the gangs of unpaired larrikins who occasionally drop in, we let them find their own food from the nearby forests.

With a beak that could easily snap through my finger, I happily trust them with my boys because they have demonstrated time and again how gently they will lick up the last of the seed crumbs from between my fingers, the whiskers either side of their beak tickling my palm. I also need my boys to learn that there are many more reasons to protect our precious wildlife and their homes, than just goodwill. For now, they think this is how everyone in New Zealand lives. They don’t have to enter the debate on keeping birds as pets yet, for them having “friends” who choose to drop around most days and are free to go where they please at any moment, is as much enjoyment as they could hope for.

We live inside an area in which the community is coordinating a pest-trapping project around our homes and backyards, along our walking tracks and above our beaches. Each of us has our own traps at home and volunteers check traps through bush tracks, council and DOC reserves. It’s a small amount of effort each, from a few minutes per volunteer, up to an hour or more for the really dedicated ones. Combined, it pieces together this amazing project. With rats at low numbers, possums virtually gone and wild cats dealt to in regular “hotspots”, bellbirds and tui are regular guests at the feeding table. So instead of composting, we recycle our fruit cores and skins by letting these birds peck away the bits they like before giving the rest to the worms. Even my 17 month old now holds up his kiwifruit skins, points outside and says “bellbird?”

I could go on forever about it all

Cheers, Kari

Thanks Kari. What a wonderful insight into your kids lives on Stewart Island. Enhancing the halo would really be cooking when these lovely natives feel this happy in our back yards of Wellington.   Let’s make it happen everyone. Nick

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