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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Kokako released into Waitakere ranges

For the first time in 50 years, the sound of kokako has been heard again in the Waitakere ranges.

Two of the rare wattlebirds were released into the forest at dawn, witnessed by tangata whenua, Auckland Regional Council and Conservation Department officials and Forest and Bird volunteers, who have turned part the regional park into a living ark by trapping predators.

The birds were accompanied from Pureora Forest in the central North Island by members of Ngati Rereahu, Maniapoto and Tuwharetoa.

Eru Thompson from Te Kawerau a Maki says it was a scene he was glad his grandchildren were able to witness.

“Over 50 years we’ve not seen and heard the kakapo and the melody of the kokako as it stretches out across the Waitakere. Today is an historic moment and ecstatic about being a part of what's happened today,” Mr Thompson says.

DOC intends to release 20 kokako into the Cascades area over the next few weeks, joining the whiteheads, stichbirds and North Island robin which are also re-establishing themselves in the Waitakere Ranges.

CHILD ABUSE PACKAGE A MERE BAND AID

The head of one of the country's largest Maori social service providers says the Government's new child abuse package is a band aid covering a wound.

The package includes the Never shake a baby media campaign, visits to Auckland families with children under 2 when domestic violence is reported, and five more hospital social workers.

Denal Meihana from Waipareira Social Services says only physical issues are being addressed when psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of children are rampant.

“They're really only focusing on the children in hospital. Well, it’s a bit late then. So we’ve got to get back to the root cause, working n the two year old that’s been beaten isn’t going to stop the cycle,” Mr Meihana says.

NGAI TAHU REBUILDS BUSINESS TEAM

After months of uncertainty, Ngai Tahu has a new team heading its commercial arm.

Former Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation chair Wally Stone was sacked earlier this year after an escalating row with the head of the tribe's runanga, Mark Solomon.

Now Trevor Burt, a former executive with multinational gas giant BOC Group, has taken over the top governance role, and Greg Campbell, the head of waste firm Transpacific Industries Australasia, has been hired as chief executive.

Mr Burt, who also serves on the boards of the Lyttelton port company, Silver Fern Farms and Canterbury lines company Mainpower, says with $600 million of assets under its control, Ngai Tahu Holdings is a large and complex organisation that needs people with extensive commercial experience.

“Ngai Tahu's only 10 years old so in an organisation sense it’s still very young. It’s gone through a lot of growth and given its relative age it’s poised to go forward in an intergenerational aspect very well and I think myself and Greg with our commercial experience can add a lot of value to that,” Mr Burt says.

Mr Campbell starts in November.

KOKAKO RELEASE A THRILL FOR NGATI REREATU

The release today of a pair of kokako into the Waitakere ranges has been a thrill for the birds' former neighbours as well as their new guardians.

The rare wattlebirds were the first of 30 going in to re-establish a breeding population in an area of the Auckland regional part that have been cleared of predators by for the Ark in the Park project.

John Paki from Ngati Rereatu, who accompanied the kokako from the Waipapa Ecological Area of the Pureora Forest west of Lake Taupo, says it's a significant step towards restoring the forest ecosystem.

As the birds were being released, the dawn chorus included the rare toutouwai or North Island robin and hihi or stitchbird, which have been released to the Waitakere Ranges in the past couple of seasons.

LAWS’ RESPONSE SMACKS OF ARROGANCE

Labour leader Phil Goff says Wanganui mayor Michael Laws's response to letters from Otaki kura pupils about the city's name smacked of arrogance.

Mr Goff says the letters made a legitimate case Whanganui should be spelt with and H.

Mr Laws replied by saying there were so many deficiencies of fact and logic in the letters, their teacher should be sacked.

“Look you don't have to agree with someone’s opinion but you should be respectful of it and he arrogantly dismissed the views of those kids. Everybody knows Michael Laws has a different point of view but all he had to do was give and explanation not put the kids down, demean them and say they’d been put up to do this,” Mr Goff says.

He wants to encourage the girls to continue participating politically.

WARNING FOR MAORI ON STROKE PREVENTION TEST

A Maniapoto man who suffered a stroke eight years ago says it's imperative Maori men get regular blood pressure checks.

Dunedin-based Rick Te Whare is sharing his story about now at the launch in parliament of Stroke Awareness week.

Like many Maori men he avoided doctor's visits, which would have identified his soaring blood pressure, the precursor to the stroke he had at age 41.

Mr Te Whare has a simple message for tane.

“Go out there. Don’t be whakaama and get your blood pressure taken. Save the whanau and yourself a lot of grief,” he says.

About 800 Maori suffer strokes each year, with the mean age of their first stroke at 60 years, compared with 75 years among Europeans.

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