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  1. Part one of two from this full length documentary.

  2. Part two of two from this full length documentary.

  3. Credits from this documentary.


By 1976 there were only seven Chatham Islands' black robins left. It was the world's rarest bird. In a bid to save the species, the surviving birds are taken from one island to another more hospitable island in a desperate rescue mission. This is part of an incredible conservation success story led by Don Merton and a NZ Wildlife Service team. Along with Black Robin, and The Robin's Return this documentary was one of the acclaimed Wild South series of 'rare bird' documentaries, upon which the formation of TVNZ's Natural History Unit was based.


A perspective by Paul Stanley Ward 16.10.2008

This is an incredible conservation success story filled with adventure and high drama.

It is one of three documentaries made by TVNZ's Natural History Unit (later NHNZ) that follows the efforts of a Don Merton-led NZ Wildlife Service ...

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Comments (8)

 Carys Grant

Carys Grant

Thank you.That was a wonderful documentary.

 Anne Hughes

Anne Hughes

fabulous! I have followed the black robin story for some years now and to see the absolutely backbreaking work your conservationists have done to save this beautiful little battler is a credit to NZ and its people.
It makes me realise how much easier(at least physically) our conservationwork here in Aus is.Thankyou!!

 Hatesa S

Hatesa S

One of the best docos I've seen in a long time!



Thank You For Rescuing The Black Robins For Us!

-Peter & Alex

 Irene Gardiner

Irene Gardiner

Great idea. They are all really good documentaries. But we will have to check on their availability with Natural History New Zealand. We'll look into it...

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When we filmed that very first robin being released there was just the sound man [Merv Aitchison] and myself, Brian Bell (the leader of the expedition) and Tony Billing (a Wildlife Service trainee). We saw the box lid open and the little bird flew out. Tony stood back and said, "Oh! Corker! Corker! Corker!" 
I remember the nerves that came over them once they realised that they had that real black robin in their hands. Those guys changed, knowing what they were entrusted with and what was ahead of them. I recall Dick Veitch. Once they had that box with the bird in it, and secured it on his pack, he was just a different person. It was the awesome responsibility of getting that precious bird down that cliff and across.