Seven keas dead in wake of 1080 work

A kea on Avalanche Peak in Arthur's Pass. Photo by Andrew Walmsley.
A kea on Avalanche Peak in Arthur's Pass. Photo by Andrew Walmsley.
A disappointed Department of Conservation has reported the deaths of seven keas following a recent 1080 pest control operation on the West Coast that was designed to prevent the birds eating poison baits.

The department has vowed to keep trying to find more ways to protect the birds. Tests were being carried out on the birds to confirm initial indications they died from eating the baits, Doc's Franz Josef area manager, Wayne Costello, said in a media release.

The seven birds that died recently were among 38 keas fitted with radio transmitters as part of a four-year programme to assess the risks and benefits of 1080 operations on kea populations.

They follow seven kea deaths reported in the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier area in 2008, with the possum-killing 1080 poison pinpointed then as the most likely cause of death.

The 2008 deaths added grist to the mill of 1080 opponents arguing the poison threatened wildlife, dogs, deer and humans but they did not stop the 1080 drops continuing.

Then conservation minister Steve Chadwick maintained the poison was still the best tool for protecting native forests from the ravages of possums, rats and stoats.

Doc started research programmes that, among other things, investigated bird-repellent baits and sought to identify a bait that was unpalatable to keas.

Mr Costello said the recent kea deaths were "very disappointing".

"We know they are inquisitive birds but believed that a new baiting protocol would be successful in keeping kea safe. Doc will now be assessing the results and taking them into account for future operations," he said.

Doc staff were checking for deaths in other bird species but had not found any.

The recent aerial 1080 operation was three years in planning and jointly run by the Animal Health Board and Doc.

It covered 30,000ha, including the South Okarito kiwi sanctuary, North Okarito forest, and a large forested buffer zone around Franz Josef township.

The operation intended to protect New Zealand's rarest kiwi - the rowi - from rats, stoats and possums, as well as protecting local farms from the threat of bovine tuberculosis, Mr Costello said.

Tracking work showed up to 60% of kea nests were attacked by predators.

The research programme also monitored nests through the breeding season to assess whether safer conditions for kea chicks outweighed risks to individual birds, Mr Costello said.

Doc would be investigating whether any specific circumstances in the operation could have led to the bird deaths.

It seemed likely the more open nature of the North Okarito forest was a factor, Mr Costello said.



DoC have no idea what they are doing

It seems pretty clear that the decision makers at DoC have no idea what they are doing when it comes to poisons in the environment.

Too bad New Zealand does not have legislation in place to prevent this sort of speculative environmental mismanagement.

Why are DoC allowed to dump tons of poisons from aircraft into the national parks? In most places, agency plans would need to go through a public review process; and the people would not stand for dumping 1080 out of helicopters.

But here, some dropout from DoC gets to buy poison and rent helicopters from his friends using public money, kill the keas, and poison the land. It Seems like the system in NZ is not working.

A matter of choice?

I don't know that it should be a matter of choice. I believe it's been foisted on us by Maori linguists. That some of us Pakehas think its a good idea doesnt mean we all do.

English has enough irregularities without adding to them. We have such plural words as sheep, deer, oxen, and children that dont follow our conventions.

I support your idea of always using anglicized plurals such as 'youths', and 'stadiums'. We used the plural 'media' so often that its now become singular.

People tell me that English is comparatively easy to learn as a second language, except for irregularities such as get/got, run/ran, child/children and our outmoded spelling. Lets not make it any less easy than it is. 


To the point

This article is about the seven kea that were poisoned by 1080, not about pronounciation.  I get the feeling that some of you don't want the deaths of these kea to be discussed so change the subject.

In 2008 another seven kea were poisoned by 1080. Enough's enough. The barbaric killing of our native wildlife, farm animals and domestic pets following 1080 drops has to stop now.

I'll second that

Quite right Allan. Maoris is perfectly correct as the English plural of Maori, although Maori is an alternative plural. I prefer to use an 's' to form the plural when it is correct to do so rather than use an alternative. Hence, I say youths rather than youth, stadiums rather than stadia and Maoris rather than Maori. All of these will be confirmed correct by most dictionaries. I note that 'Maori' is becoming more common as the English plural, but there's no logical reason for it. It's just a matter of choice.

'Keas' is English

According to theboxking's logic, the correct way to say 'sheep' in Maori is 'sheep', not 'hipi'. 

By insisting that the English plural of 'kea' is not 'keas' he is denying English-speakers the right to decide what is right and wrong in their own language.

When languages adopt words from other languages, they may or may not also adapt them.  

We don't pronounce 'champagne' or 'Paris' the way the French do, and they don't pronounce 'New Zealand' the way we do. 

Maoris have rightly complained about the way we  have sometimes misused their language. We can rightly object when they interfere with our language usage.


No, Allan is not being ironic. He is being upset by Maoris telling English-speakers how to transliterate Maori words into English usage. That's the domain of native English speakers.

Yes, Maori has no 's', so when speaking or writing Maori we dont use an 's'. Hence, 'sugar' becomes 'huka', 'sheep' becomes 'hipi'. Fine. Not a problem.

It's not our job to tell Maoris how to use their language. Not their job to tell us how to use ours.

English language

Im sure the article was about Kea, not anti-diversity of the English language. If you borrow a word at least try say it right. If you cant because its too hard then it's OK, but if you don't because you're stubborn than that just goes to show how open minded you are.

Kea is the correct pronounciation, not keas. If you'd like to argue that adding an 's' to the end is the english way of indicating a plural, you're mistaken. Some words just dont sound right with an 's' on the end - we say gease, not gooses, and Chinese and Japanese, not Chineses and Japaneses.


So sad to see native fauna

So sad to see native fauna affected by these pesticide drops. "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions". DoC may have all the best intentions but poisons are poisons & they're doing exactly what we'd expect.

I'm pretty certain Allan is being which case I agree that the ODT editors need a little stronger education in how to use Maori language. Plural is not indicated with an "s" at the end. Back to school! Meanwhile, at least please fix the errors in the article.


It is distressing to read of those comical and cute birds dying. Hopefully, steps being taken to prevent it happening again will be successful.

But it was pleasing to see the headline and body of the article using the standard English convention of adding 's' to the word 'kea' to indicate plural, tho the DoC representative used the PC and arrogant imposition on our language by omitting the 's'.

Maoris (sic) often criticise us pakehas (sic) of abusing their language, but then tell us just how we must use Maori words in English. Every language has the right to change words 'borrowed' from other languages as it chooses. Maori purists should harden up.