Dave Houston

13 posts
Visiting the Chatham Islands since 1996, Dave works for the Department of Conservation providing advice on the management of threatened species.
Parea - Chatham Island pigeon

Parea – the Chatham Island pigeon

Status (2008):Population (2009):Trend: Critically Endangered600 individualsImproving Larger and heavier than its mainland cousin, the parea or Chatham Island pigeon is today largely confined to the south-western corner of Chatham Island.  Like several other Chatham species the parea had a close brush with extinction, with the population dropping to 40-45 birds […]

Chatham petrel (Pterodroma axillaris)

Chatham petrel population growing

Status (2012):Population (2010):Trend: Nationally vulnerable1,400 individualsImproving Probably once abundant throughout the Chatham Islands, human exploitation, habitat destruction and introduced predators saw the Chatham petrel restricted to Rangatira or Southeast Island by the time of its discovery in 1892. Until 1961 farming activity on Rangatira resulted in the petrels being confined […]

Chatham Island oystercatchers

Many of us are familiar with New Zealand’s variable oystercatcher, the black and white (or sometimes entirely black) wader with bright orange legs and bill that we encounter on beaches around the country. What most don’t know is that the Chatham Islands have their own version, the Chatham Island oystercatcher and that it narrowly escaped extinction in recent times.

Weka on the hunt

What’s the story with weka?

Weka are part of the Chatham Island identity. Indeed, people born on Chatham Island call themselves “Weka”, as opposed to “Kiwi” for people born on the New Zealand mainland. And so it is a surprise to many people that weka are not native to the Chatham Islands and that they can be hunted.

Weka belong to a group of birds called rails. The Chatham Islands originally had seven species of rail but now (following the arrival of humans) there are only 3 surviving species – pukeko, spotless crake and marsh crake.  The three surviving species are widely distributed throughout New Zealand and the southwest Pacific, reaching the edge of their range on the Chatham Islands.