Singing for return of kokako
Dame Malvina Major and several Waikato rising stars put on a song-filled evening for kokako enthusiasts, raising over $7000 to help return the native songbird to Mt Pirongia.
The fundraising event on March 5, organised by Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society, and hosted by Vilagrad Winery, included musical performances, dinner and a charity auction, with all proceeds going towards the translocation of the Kokako to Mt Pirongia.
Society chairwoman Clare St Pierre said she was delighted with the success of the event and the generosity of the community.
‘‘We were blown away by the way people are coming together to support our cause. This evening has been a fantastic start to fund what has been at the heart of our group from the start - to bring the kokako call back to our maunga.’’
Performers included Waikatobased soprano singers Chelsea Dolman and Cecily Shaw and violin player Rachel Twyman.
Dame Malvina Major, the national ambassador for the kokako, surprised guests by accompanying her students on stage to sing the closing song Pokarekare Ana.
Various donated items were auctioned including native bird themed art and the once-ina-lifetime chance to release a kokako onto Pirongia Mountain, which eventually went for $500.
The funds are being raised to pay for a professional ecologist to oversee the capture, release and monitoring of 40 kokako over the next three years. The first release is expected in April.
The predator control work, which has made the translocation of the endangered songbird to Mt Pirongia possible, is carried out by dedicated volunteers from the community.
Dr Te Taka Keegan, a supporter of the project, spoke of the spiritual significance of hearing the kokako on Mt Pirongia again.
He said some of the returning birds would be direct descendants of those original manu relocated from Mt Pirongia to island sanctuaries in the 1990s (an effort to safeguard their DNA).
The Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society started work to re-establish kokako on Mt Pirongia in 2006, and has been reducing the number of predators in preparation for its return.
The Waipa King Country Trust is responsible for the delivery of the Life Education Trust message to primary and intermediate school children at Te Awamutu, Cambridge, Otorohanga and Te Kuiti and all schools in between.
There are about 70 schools in its region and its educator Nicky Wise sees about 6500 children each year in the state of the art, purpose-built classroom that travels to each school.
Anyone who would like to see what is involved and who may possibly be interested in supporting the work of the trust is most welcome to attend the AGM at 5.30pm, March 22 at the offices of Gyde Wansbone (Accountants) 195 Mahoe St, Te Awamutu.