Brown teal are only found in New Zealand. The species was once distributed throughout the country but is now mainly restricted to lowland freshwater wetlands of Great Barrier Island, parts of Northland and several other locations around New Zealand where new populations have been established using translocated birds. Brown teal are classified as Recovering by the Department of Conservation and Endangered, population trend increasing, by IUCN.
Staff have a range of roles to fulfil in managing these native birds. The nest site must be monitored to check the health of the eggs and to obtain a hatching date. Brown teal parents hatch and rear young but staff need to specially prepare food so that all ducklings can feed. During quarantine ducklings are constantly weighed to check their health and staff need to take a range of samples to test for disease.
Orana joined the Brown Teal (Pateke) recovery programme in 2004. In that time, the Park has held three different breeding pairs and collectively those birds have produced a total of 77 ducklings all of which have been released to the wild. Due to the combined efforts of those involved in the Recovery Programme (captive breeders, Department of Conservation, farmers and land owners, iwi and more) the wild population has doubled since 2000.