A kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet, Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) bursts into view. These engaging parakeets fill the skies with flashes of green and their chattering laughter. They once were a common sight on the mainland, but their numbers plummeted with predation by introduced rats, stoats, and cats. In 2010, they were reintroduced to the Wellington region, into a sanctuary surrounded by a predator-proof fence where they can breed safely and fly freely.
A kākā’s (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis) plumage is reminiscent of monarch and red admiral butterflies. Kākā are not a flashy parrot, but look closely and you’ll see a multitude of elegant autumnal shades, with highlights of orange and red. Perfect for blending into the bush. Of all the birds of New Zealand, the kākā is my favourite - curious, cheeky, engaging, yet also cryptic. I’ve had the incredible privilege of helping with their conservation as a volunteer charged with monitoring their breeding success; a task which has involved intensive observations of kākā over many years. They are the reason I first became a photographer and then an artist - they are my muse.
A takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) pops up from behind harakeke (flax) flowers to shyly show off his iridescent plumage. Takahē are one of the most endangered birds in the world and were once thought extinct, until a small remnant population was found in the wilds of the Murchison mountains in 1948. There is now over 300 individuals and a growing population thanks to intensive conservation efforts. As well as the Murchison population, takahē are also found on predator-free offshore islands and fenced mainland sanctuaries.