Once again we carried out the annual series of counts to monitor Weka at Kawakawa Bay in April
2016. The Tawhitokino Block was counted on the 2 nd , 9 th and 23 rd with a few more sites counted to
finish the required number on May 5 th , Orere Point was counted on the 16 th and Richardson’s on May
5 th . Counting went well this year with good, mild weather and mostly a good turnout. For the last
formal count we were joined by participants in the Birds New Zealand Youth Camp who were based
at the Pukorokoro-Miranda Shorebird Centre this year.
By late winter (June/July 2015) there had been a very obvious decline in Weka numbers in Te Papa
Rd and a limited count (Sites 1,2,3 and 10) was organised with local members in October (15 th , 16 th ,
and 17 th ) along the coastal strip to assess the severity of this decline.
Unfortunately, after last year’s promising count, numbers have reverted to the recent declining trend.
Only 20 birds were counted in the main study area, including just 4 pairs. No Weka were heard on the
Richardson’s property or at Orere Point although we counted all of the sites we have been monitoring
there in recent years.
Last year at Kawakawa Bay there were 67 birds with 18 pairs recorded. This means we lost nearly
three quarters (73%) of Weka with an even bigger decline (83%) in the productive breeding pairs
from the preceding year. This very low total places us right back at the beginning as we found 16
birds with 4 pairs on our first count in 2005. It is a far cry from the about 130 birds we had in the main
study area from 2010 to 2012.
A total lack of birds at Orere Point is a first for us as there have always been a few since we began
counting there in 2012. Last year there were two pairs and three singles and we recorded up to 15
birds with 3 pairs there in 2013. Also during 2013 there were 14 birds with three pairs on
Richardson’s but counting in this block has not been consistent and no birds have been recorded since,
although one was present in 2014 and three in 2015 on the northern edge of the block heard as part of
the main count.
In October we found a total of 8 birds at Kawakawa Bay including one pair mostly along the Coast Rd
at Sites 1 and 2. This area is normally a stronghold of well cared for Weka so this was an alarmingly
low count reflecting the concerns of the residents. Comparing the same sites this April we found 12 or
13 birds including 4 pairs, so while still very low there has clearly been an increase in the number of
pairs while the number of sites occupied remains similar. These Weka counts are not exact but there is
a high level of consistency with these results from both counts and the reports of the residents who
were keeping an eye on the birds locally.