© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2022

Mohua return to Arthur's Pass National Park

Azriel Taylor
mohua Poulter valley 2 2022 credit S Kerrisk DOC min
Mohua/Yellowhead bird in a tree  S Kerrisk, DOC (supplied)

Forty-one Mohua birds have been released in Arthur's Pass, after a 20 year absence in one of the valleys.

Mohua were once one of the most common birds found in beech forest areas around the South Island. The little yellow birds can also be found on a New Zealand $100 dollar bill. 

However their numbers dropped to dangerous lows, due to pests such as rats and stoats.

After a 20 year absence in Poulter Valley, 41 Mohua have been reintroduced back into the area. 

Department of Conservation (DOC) Biodiversity Threats Advisor Marion Rhodes says DOC has been returning mohua to valleys in Arthur’s Pass National Park and Lake Sumner Forest Park over the past 14 years. 

"In 2007 Mohua were just clinging on in two Canterbury valleys. Mohua were successfully reintroduced into the Hurunui South Branch in Lake Sumner Forest Park, with two releases in 2008 and 2009. They were also returned to the Hawdon valley (Arthur’s Pass National Park) in 2014, with a second release in 2017," says Rhodes. 

This most recent return of Mohua to Poulter Valley in March this year, has been planned for at least 12 months.

Mohua have an important role to play in the ecosystem of beech forests, and Rhodes says as insect eaters, Mohua are an important part of the food web in a beech forest, and help to regulate insect numbers.

They are also a very important bird for Māori, and are a taonga (treasured) species for Ngāi Tahu, playing a unique role in biodiversity.

The work doesn't stop there however, as DOC does annual surveys in Canterbury for the bird, to track how they are faring in response to predator control. 

DOC urges the public to look out for Mohua while hiking in the Arthur's Pass national park area, and to involve themselves in community conservation and trapping groups, to make sure that Mohua can continue to survive for years to come. 

They have released a Mohua recovery plan, which you can access here.