‘A real win for biodiversity’ – Endangered whio set free



duck in front of box by river

Several whio or blue ducks were successfully released into Abel Tasman National Park this week. Photo: Ruth Bollongino / Project Janszoon

Radio NZ, 26 February 2023

More whio, or blue ducks, have been successfully released into Abel Tasman National Park as it inches closer to its target of 50 birds.

Eleven whio were flown into the park, with two birds, or manu, released at Wainui Hut, three at Evans Creek and six at Falls River – bringing the total in the park to 36.

The manu were hatched and raised at the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust in Christchurch, as part of the Top of the South Breed for Release programme.

It was part of the work of Project Janszoon, a privately funded trust working to reverse the ecological decline in Abel Tasman National Park.

The trust’s partners included the Department of Conservation, Air New Zealand, tourism operators, volunteers and iwi.

Abby McCall from the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust was among the group who released the birds.

“Flying into the release site with the birds was a chance to reflect on all the hard work the Birdsong Trust has put into predator control in the remoter reaches of the park.

“It’s just amazing really, after years of working on reducing those invasive pests, to see young whio swim away from their crates and go straight into swimming, diving and feeding – and know they have a good chance of surviving and breeding here.

“It’s a real win for biodiversity in the park.”

Lower Moutere School Abel Tasman Youth Ambassadors helped with the whio release.

Lower Moutere School Abel Tasman Youth Ambassadors helped with the whio release. Photo: Ruth Bollongino / Project Janszoon

Project Janszoon Director Bruce Vander Lee walked into the Wainui Hut release site with Lower Moutere School Abel Tasman Youth Ambassadors.

He said Project Janszoon’s work was a major factor in keeping the birds safe.

“We have evidence that whio are breeding in the park now … Adding this latest group of manu to the gene pool will help ensure the long-term viability of the population.

The whio is one of New Zealand's more endangered ducks.

The whio is one of New Zealand’s more endangered ducks. Photo: Ruth Bollongino / Project Janszoon

“It’s just great to see them out there, and have the next generation of conservationists there to welcome them into their new home.”

Five more juvenile ducks would be released this autumn once they reach 11 weeks old, when they would usually leave their parents and start to fend for themselves

More Media News

Newsletter Signup
Support Our Work

Project Janszoon welcomes donations to help with our work in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Receive our latest news

Subscribe To OUR Newsletter

Get notified about our latest restoration work in the Abel Tasman