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

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


In the mid 1970s the Chatham Island black robin was the world's rarest bird. With only two females left, the ante for a conservation rescue story would be hard to up. Enter saviour Don Merton and his Wildlife Service team. Their pioneering efforts included abseiling the precious birds down cliff faces, and left-field libido spurs for the talismanic 'Eve' of her species: Old Blue. This classic Wild South edition united three award-winning films that were foundational for the Natural History Unit (now NHNZ): Seven Black Robins, The Robin's Return, and Black Robin.


A Wild South perspective by Paul Stanley Ward 23.11.2012

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

The 1989 documentary follows the efforts of a Don Merton-led NZ Wildlife Service team to save the world's (then) rarest bird, the Chatham Island ...

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Credits (7)

 Rod Morris
 Richard Thomas
 Paul Donovan

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Comments (3)

 Kim Brandon

Kim Brandon

Interesting doco, good work

 Baronia Tipu

Baronia Tipu

I hope all has gone well for the continuation of the Black Robins survival. Well done team and an excellent documentry especially when the hearts of man and women of New Zealand puts so much energy, life and love into the saving of such beautiful small creatures :) Beautifully illustrated and thank you all soo much xxx

 Sally Bloomfield

Sally Bloomfield

A client of mine says Don is a nephew of hers!


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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. 
If the rarest bird in the world can be rescued, then — given human determination and effort — no species need become extinct. 


1988 New Zealand Listener Film and Television Awards
Best Documentary - Wild South (for Black Robin)

1983 Feltex Awards
Best Documentary - Wild South (for The Robins’ Return)