On Friday 20 May 2016 the Minister for Conservation, Maggie Barry, officially opened Pukaha’s newest attraction, a free flight aviary currently with seven different species of New Zealand birds.
General Manager Helen Tickner says that it was due to an amazing effort from not only lead contractor Riggs Zschokke of Masterton, but also the whole Pukaha team who really got in behind the project.
“We had evening planting and mulching sessions with the entire staff and a number of willing volunteers. Some of the team never want to see another rock again, let alone move one in the whio river run! Once the birds were introduced, it’s become an amazing place which we are all very proud to share with our visitors” says Helen.
The walk through aviary was modelled on the Cloud at the Auckland viaduct which took the eye of Pukaha Board Chair Bob Francis who, as an ex international rugby referee, spent a lot of time there during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
After getting in touch with Fabric Structure Systems, who built the Cloud, a serious fundraising effort was put in place by the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board which culminated in the opening on 20 May.
There are seven species of New Zealand birds which will reside in the aviary being North Island kaka, korimako/bellbird, red-crowned kakariki, kereru, tui, whio and pateke. In September 2016 it is intended that a Wellington green gecko enclosure be introduced into the free flight aviary as well.
The whio are in their own river run aviary which allows them to be excluded from the pateke and vice versa. Both pairs of whio and pateke in the aviary are part of the current national breeding programme for these species.
The free flight aviary is the fourth stage of development by the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board since 2009 following the upgrade of the Visitor Centre in 2009, the construction of a new kiwi house, kiwi nursery and movie theatre in 2011 and toilet and waste water upgrade in 2013.
Author: Helen Tickner – General Manager