Aroma Towers

Aroma Towers

Bottle tops and more bottle tops!

We have had a wonderful response to our request for milk bottle tops from the residents of Kawakawa Bay and now have enough to last us at least 2 years!

We have our first Aroma Towers out in use.

After some research into importing 2xx6WBrUSYim550sTJpRDaj-x8mL9j6Diu8BAKK-Ru4stainless steel tubing from the UK at $50 a metre (very expensive!) and trying to drill holes in plastic waste pipe (very time consuming!), we discovered hair rollers at 5 or 6 for $2 (very cheap!)

These are effective and we now have Aroma towers out in about 25 of our traps.

More will go out in the traps as the time for checking other trap lines comes up.

October Newsletter 2015

October Newsletter 2015

Weka in Kawakawa Bay (especially our closely watched birds in Te Papa Road) and Orere Point are on the decline. Their numbers over recent months have been depleted and we cannot define what is causing the problem.

One possible reason is the wrong poison has been left out to kill rats or mice. If a Weka were to eat the dead rat or mouse then they too will be poisoned this is commonly referred to as “Secondary Kill’download

This can be avoided if you use a rat/mice bait labelled RACUMIN (contains the active agent COUMATETRALYL) which REMOVES THE POSSIBILITY OF SECONDARY POISONING TO PETS AND WILDLIFE INCLUDING WEKA.

To the left is a photo of a box of Racumin which can be purchased at many Outlets (the predominant colour of the box is red ) If you are having trouble locating it then you can purchase it through WEKAWATCH, at cost.

Racumin sachets should be fixed so the rat cannot take it away. Nail it to a tree or clip it to a heavy object.

Thank you to all the people who have given us your milk bottle tops. A marvellous response and we now have our special Aroma Towers out in a number of trap boxes!

Please contact WekaWatch with any Weka news !

Our weka banding programme

Our weka banding programme

When weka started visiting local residents on a regular basis, each household would give their visitors names, Willie, Wendy, Big Boy, and so on. So that ‘Fred’ to one family might be ‘Oscar’ to the family next door. They did not even know whether Willie was actually a male as the sexes are difficult to distinguish to an amateur.P1040271

To learn more about who was paired with who, and whether it was the same bird that was visiting each day we needed to get some of them colour banded.











Bird banding in New Zealand is controlled under the Wildlife Act 1953, and the Wildlife Regulations 1955. An authority (Wildlife Act Authority) is required before people other than DOC staff can capture, handle, mark or band protected or partially protected bird species. Metal bands are the most common form of banding. Each metal band is stamped with a number, unique to that bird whatever the species. But to make recognition easier the metal band is often combined with a combination of colour bands. Each band recorded adds another item of information, such as how far the bird has travelled and how long it has lived for and may even mean an entirely new discovery.

Fortunately Tony Beauchamp, our weka adviser from DOC, has the required permit and the P1040257necessary skills as he has been handling weka since the late 1970s. Tony puts the metal band on the left leg of a male bird and on the right for a female ”because women are always right!”

In January 2010 he banded the first 12 weka in Te Papa Road and since then more than 50 birds have been captured and banded. Daily sightings of individual birds at various properties have been recorded ever since. As a result we have named and got to know many individual birds and various personalities.

We have found that some birds swop partners or move their home range. Also we know that we our adult birds are not staying around for very long. At the beginning of 2015 after 5 years, only one of the original 12 birds was still being seen.

On Kawau Island some weka have remained in the same territory for up to 12 years.

Further observations and analysis of the recordings are still being undertaken.

Banding Weka

Banding Weka



An un-banded weka is given a health check.


Its weight is recorded.


Each bird has a unique collection of bands.


The beak is measured.


Plumage is checked.


Bands are carefully fitted.


Newsletter June 2015

Newsletter June 2015

In this newsletter we have items on:-

WekaWatch picnic BBQ,   Our 2015 AGM,     2015 counts,   Our banded birds – what we are learning from studying the banded birds,   Our traps and trap lines,   Another mainland home for NI weka,   News from Nelson,   Membership and subscriptions


WekaWatch picnic BBQ

A very pleasant evening was held at Phil and Nova’s in early February. It is good to have time together with no traps to check, no weka calls to record, just to have time to talk about other stuff. We had a visit from weka George and some of his family which is fun for WekaWatchers who do not have daily weka visitors. Thank you Phil and Nova.


2015 Annual General meeting

The 7th AGM of WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay was held on 18th April.

The formal business was quickly completed. We accepted Ruth and Dave Reffin’s resignation from the committee with regret; they have been involved in WekaWatch almost since the start. We welcomed a new committee member Denise Moyle who has boldly stepped into the breach as our IT person. Our website has a new look. Denise would love more photos and news items to post on it. She has also opened a WekaWatch Facebook page. Do visit it and like us!

The 2015 Rabbit awards went to Phil Coory and John Cotman for their huge effort building 31 new DOC trap boxes, all of which are out on the lines now .


” Community buy-in; Managing weka at Kawakawa Bay; “.

Following the AGM, Tony Beauchamp talked about what he has learned about our weka population after 10 years of regular visits to Kawakawa Bay. Crucial to his conclusions is his analysis of the data from more than 5 years of our colour banding programme. See below under ‘Banded Birds’. He concluded that without our local community taking ‘ownership’ of the Kawakawa Bay weka they will not survive long term

2015 count results

We have been counting weka now for 10 years. From the initial discovery of 16 birds in 2005 to recording about 130 from 2010 to 2012 we were excited to see the population growing quite quickly. Two drought years in 2013 and 2014 saw the numbers drop dramatically to 99 in 2013 and then crash to 42 in 2014. When we had another dry January this year we feared another poor count but rain began to fall during February and has continued since. We had excellent weather for counting this year and we recorded 67 weka which was a welcome increase after 2014.

2015countThere was a higher concentration of birds, and especially pairs, near the houses between Te Papa Road and Tuturau Bay suggesting that deliberate or inadvertent feeding and/or predator control by property owners may be assisting weka in these areas. We hope the offspring of these birds will move back into the hills to assist the population recovery there too. The map shows the results over the 3 nights of counting in the core area.




Weka numbers at Orere Point (6) were close to the 2014 count (5) and included two pairs this time (none in 2014) so this is an improvement.


The persistence of weka near the houses at Orere reflects the situation at Kawakawa Bay; establishing your home range near people is a very good idea!

Committee meeting 2015

Committee meeting 2015

The newly elected committee for 2015 met for the first time 8th May and included George, who stood on the deck and pondered the discussion that will affect his future.

Newsletter June 2014

Newsletter June 2014

2014 June news letter.pdf - Adobe Reader

In this newsletter:

2014 June news letter.pdf - Adobe Reader

Our secretary resigns
The Weka Watch picnic
Our AGM and Graeme’s talk
2014 counts
Our banded birds and others
Our trap lines
Talks to kids

Farewell to Barbara and thank you.
The committee has regretfully accepted Barbara Strong’s resignation from the position of minute’s secretary. Barbara has supported WekaWatch from the start (early 2009) and is the only secretary we have had. She was a trapper for a time with her husband Noel and she still wants to be involved in our counts. Thank you Barbara for all your work!
We are very fortunate that Yvonne Taylor, one of our local members and a long time resident of Te Papa Road (weka territory), has agreed to step up and fill this important role. Thank you Yvonne!

Annual picnic
28 of us spent a wonderful summer evening at the Coory’s lovely home, enjoying the chatter, a glorious sunset, and the bird life including a weka of course. Thank you Phil and Nova!

AGM and talk.
The business of our AGM was over in record time thinks to the remarkable skills of Kevin our chairman, so we were able to move very quickly into the highlight of the afternoon, the talk by Ann and Basil Graeme- Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs- reintroducing North Island Weka.
Basil introduced the rail family and explained the links with our weka. Then Ann talked of their vision back in 1989 to reintroduce North Island weka to different parts of the mainland North Island. Their struggles and successes were fascinating to hear about. You can read more on the website
Special mention was made of Elaine Staples, an early volunteer weka breeder who travelled from Paeroa to attend the meeting. She recorded her experiences in a series of newspaper articles in the local press. You can access these on

2014 counts

A full count report is on the website by clicking  this link   Weka counts 2014    but in summary

• We covered the 11 sites in our core area in 3 nights, only one of which was spoilt by wind.

• We also got to Orere on a fourth night.

• The number of weka counted in 2014 was very much lower than last year which in itself had seen a 25% drop from 2012. We guess that this drop (130 to 99 to 42 over the 3 years) can be blamed on the two successive years of drought. The number of pairs too was low.

• Numbers at Orere were also down and no pairs were heard.

• The low call numbers were either because the birds were not there, or they were lacking the energy or too busy foraging to call.


Our banded birds and others
Yorica the doughty female banded in February 2010 has changed partners again but has stayed in much the same area. In 2012 Wilson came off worst in a territorial fightshe spurned Boy, her partner of 3 years, for a younger bloke, Wilson. Wilson has recently moved territories and was seen about a month ago bearing severe scarring on his head (see photo) and Yorica has taken up with an even younger chap, George (he is the son of William and Kate, and grandson of Lizzie and the Duke but that is another story). George bears no scars so we assume the fight between the two males was very one sided. The good news is that now, a month later, Wilson is bearing a full head of feathers!

 Our trap lines

Thank you again to all our trap line volunteers. The 110 Doc traps are visited at least monthly and the data on captures then saved on a computer; data loading is far less fun than retrieving the successes in the field.
4 ferrets, 2 stoats and 1 weasel, along with 46 hedgehogs and 76 rats makes a good start to our war against predators in 2014.

Orere near the dairy

New signs

Last letter we reported on our new pictorial signs. We said “The wheels of Council seem to grind at the same rate as those of God, but after more than a year of negotiating, our Council contact Michael ….”
We now have two yellow diamonds at Orere Point – magnificent! Thank you again Michael! (See photo)
But there is also a lengthy saga of a yellow sign fixed to an old power pole on the Coast Road. When the pole was replaced the sign was put back facing in the wrong direction. How to get it reversed? A direct approach to Vector did not work – the pole job had been done by subcontractors from Hamilton and as no one was without electricity it was not a Vector problem.
Once again Michael came to our rescue. He found that the chain of communication involved us, him (=Council), Vector, and finally Auckland Transport because it is a road sign!!! It would have been easier to souvenir the sign and start from scratch, asking for a new one. Thank you Michael for your efforts over 6 long months! The sign now faces oncoming traffic on the Coat Road as it should.
But there is also a lengthy saga of a yellow sign fixed to an old power pole on the Coast Road. When the pole was replaced the sign was put back facing in the wrong direction. How to get it reversed? A direct approach to Vector did not work – the pole job had been done by subcontractors from Hamilton and as no one was without electricity it was not a Vector problem.
Once again Michael came to our rescue. He found that the chain of communication involved us, him (=Council), Vector, and finally Auckland Transport because it is a road sign!!! It would have been easier to souvenir the sign and start from scratch, asking for a new one.

Thank you Michael for your efforts over 6 long months! The sign now faces oncoming traffic on the Coast Road as it should.

Year 3 Everglade School sponsored a trapPublicity
Our weka story is always being spread far and wide.
Ian Southey presented a paper on our project here in Kawakawa Bay to a discerning and critical audience at the annual conference of the Ornithological Society of NZ. His analysis of 9 years of results has led to some interesting discussion in committee as to where we go from here. Rosemary and John tackle the younger fry. Firstly it was 75 Year 3 pupils at Everglade Primary School, a large but very attentive group, who made a donation of $50 to WekaWatch. One of our DOC traps will bear their photo and a note to say they are the sponsors. Rosemary and John also spoke to 11 members of the St John Clevedon Youth Division who are doing an environment badge. One youngster summed up the night with glowing eyes “We got to kill the rabbit 9 times!” Our demonstration Perspex-topped DOC trap is a winner every time!
The annual subscription is just $20.00 per household.
If you have not yet renewed your subscription for 2014, or should you want to join us, you can pay on line. Our ASB account number is – 12 3031 0137652 00. Please be sure to tell us who is paying and send us your contact details.
Alternatively make cheques out to: WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc
Our mailing address is: WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc, C/- Kawakawa Bay Post Centre Kawakawa Bay, 2138
You may choose to add a donation to your membership. Your added support is greatly appreciated. We are a registered charity and donations over $5.00 qualify for a rebate from the IRD. If you need a receipt please be sure to email us your postal address.

Name: _______________________________________________________

Postal address: ____________________________________________________

Post code: _____________

Home Phone No:

Preferred Email Address:
This really helps reduce our costs.

Subscription $ 20.00
Donation $_________
Amount enclosed: $_________

Remember that as well as your subscription we welcome your physical support, especially at count time in the autumn.

Email us on
Phone 09 2922 512
Visit our website


WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc.


February 2014




For more information, or if you have any weka sightings, please contact us at or ring 2922512



  Our banded birds

Our newest trap line 34 traps are out on the Richardson’s property.  Thanks to George Richardson and his quad bike with trailer which made the setting out so much easier.

  The line consists of three spurs running down from ‘the trig’ – Mataikokako 355 m – so checking this line involves a good walk.








Lila Holden, our youngest WekaWatch member, is getting bigger and she still takes her weka watching very seriously!


 Weka Killed on Kawau Island There was a lot of publicity in the papers over the trial of a dog owner on Kawau Island.  He was found guilty of two charges of allowing his dogs to enter a reserve on the island and kill 14 endangered weka, – a charge that carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine.  Kawau Island is home to more than a third of the North Island weka population. North Island brown kiwi are also found on the island, and both species are vulnerable to dog attacks. It was interesting to learn that with the advances in DNA analysis it may soon be possible to determine the breed of a dog that has inflicted injuries on a bird.  Should anyone find a dead weka that may have suffered a dog attack, before handling or moving  the body in any way please phone 2922 512 and let us know.  We have been given instructions on what to do to maximise the chance of getting reliable DNA samples from any tooth imprints on the carcass, evidence that might stand up in court. 


No feathers, no beaks, no brown button eyes,

No banded legs spotted at all.

But we know they’re still with us, we’re not telling lies.

We’re deafened by loud weka calls!

Those Te Papa Road weka babies and other news

B/Y and Y/R – Boy and Yorica –  are being seen most days in Te Papa Road with their latest family, their third for this breeding season.  The juveniles are brown and fluffy and about half the size of their parents.  The ‘teenagers’ from the second family are still around but their father chases them off if he can.

Tony Beauchamp was here for three nights over the first 2011 count and was successful in banding some more of the unbanded birds in Te Papa Road, bringing the total of new band combinations for us to watch for to 6 (5 of these juveniles from this season), and the grand total of banded birds to 18.  Of those banded a year ago  about 6 have wandered off and are no longer being seen.   We are keen to hear of any weka with coloured leg bands being seen anywhere in the Kawakawa Bay area.

Two reliable reports from the wider area. 

A weka crossing the Kawakawa Orere Road close to Cashmores Number 1 Bridge.

A couple from Orere Point whio have had a weka in their garden, and so know what they are looking at, saw two groups of weka totalling 6 birds near the second cattle stop on the raod into Tapapakanga Regional Park, at about 1.30 p.m.  has anyone else seen thses birds??

A brief report on our AGM

14 members attended our short but interesting AGM on Saturday 9th April.  Chairman Peter King’s report on our activities in 2010 was well received and we reluctantly accepted his decision to resign as chair after 3 years.  We are delighted to welcome Kevin Vaughan as our new chairman and look forward to working with him, especially the ability to tap into his long record of involvement in a variety of other conservation groups.  The AGM was followed by another successful weka count on a perfect windless autumn evening.

More chicks in Te Papa Road

Boy (Blue/Yellow) has been seen on more than one occasion with three small chicks, possible about a week old.  This is his scond hatching of the season, having had two chicks earlier with Yellow/Red (Yorica).  Y/R has not been seen with the new family but we can assume she is the other parent.

A lone young unbanded bird has been seen in the road at two other properties over the last week;  this could be a juvenile from one of the two early hatchings in the road.

Our logo

Our logo

(our logo)

We are very excited about our logo which was developed for us by the Howick College Art Club under the guidance of teacher Lars Gabel.