Three ''rock stars'' of the bird world won over school
pupils, residents and visitors yesterday during a historic
outing to Arrowtown.
The kakapo chicks, all about 10 weeks old, were chauffeured
from Invercargill to Arrowtown yesterday morning in secure
boxes, secured with seat belts, before being left to roam
free in their plush surroundings in the Athenaeum Hall's
The ''Chicks Day Out'' was organised by the Department of
Conservation's Kakapo Recovery Team and Real Journeys, with
the aim of raising awareness and money for the programme.
Gold coin donations yesterday raised more than $1700. The
Kakapo Adoption Programme was also in full swing and $2000
Sian Davis (12) yesterday ''adopted'' two kakapo, having
saved $200 by selling plums and possum key rings.
Doc's Kakapo Recovery Programme manager, Deidre Vercoe Scott,
said the programme was a partnership with Doc, New Zealand
Aluminium Smelters and Forest and Bird, and had been running
for 25 years.
In that time, numbers of the endangered bird had increased
from 41 left in the world to 128.
The three chicks on display yesterday - Lisa1, Rakiura2 and
Heather1, all temporarily named after their mother and their
egg number - were being hand-reared in Invercargill but would
soon be moved to a predator-free island.
After spending four weeks in a controlled environment on the
island, they would be released into the wild and monitored
closely for 12 months.
''They have a tendency to do some silly things ... As they're
learning about life, we'll be keeping an eye on them,'' Ms
All kakapo were monitored using a transmitter strapped to
their backs, which enabled Doc to gather data on mating,
nesting and survival rates.
It also allowed targeted feeding for specific kakapo via
''hopper stations'', which could be programmed to unlock only
when a certain kakapo arrived.
Ms Scott said between $800,000 and $1 million was spent on
the programme each year but it was ''well worth it''. The
three chicks were expected to live for up to 80 years.
Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder said it was
important for the company to support the programme, given its
vested interest in ensuring the wilderness remained
''pristine'' and endangered species were protected and able
He said there was an ''incredible'' turnout to meet the
chicks yesterday and people were ''lining up down the
''But undoubtedly the best part has been the huge smiles and
the fascinated school kids after they have been in the