Air New Zealand has helped relocate six young tūturuatu shorebirds from Cape Sanctuary in Hawke’s Bay to their new home on Motutapu Island.
The birds are some of the world’s rarest shorebirds with a population of just 250. The native birds are only found in the Chatham Islands and two predator-free islands off the coast of Aotearoa.
The chicks were transported in the aircraft cabin, securely fastened in seats, and touched down in Auckland yesterday morning. Flight attendant Annalise Michie said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be a part of. Every day in my job, I look forward to greeting our wonderful customers – but I got to greet some customers of a different, more feathery kind, and that’s really special. It’s not every day you get to say you played a small part in helping support the amazing work DOC does to protect the country’s unique wildlife.”
Air New Zealand flew the tūturuatu chicks from Hawke’s Bay to Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) in partnership with the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC). The carrier says two of the birds were bred at Cape Sanctuary and the other four at the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust in Christchurch, but were taken in by Cape Sanctuary prior to release day.
Air New Zealand’s Acting Head of Sustainability Jenny Sullivan commented: “To be able to help move our precious wildlife around Aotearoa to ensure they thrive for future generations is incredibly special to everyone here at Air New Zealand.”
The DOC and Air New Zealand have partnered in relocating over 4,000 native birds in the past ten years including kiwi, kākāriki and takahe birds. The airline says it has also transported a number of conservation dogs vital in finding and keeping our wildlife safe from predators.