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Hero image for Looking at New Zealand - The Fight to Save the Saddleback

Looking at New Zealand - The Fight to Save the Saddleback

Television (Full Length Episode) – 1968

This wee gem from the 60s Sunday night magazine show records a pivotal New Zealand conservation moment. Wildlife Service ranger Don Merton experiments with rescue techniques to save the endangered North Island saddleback (tieke), a wattlebird surviving on Hen Island. Aided by electronics expert John Kendrick (of National Radio bird call fame) he uses calls to lure the spry birds into mist nets before moving the precious cargo to cat-free Cuvier Island. The world-leading skills developed here were to be crucial in saving the black robin and kakapo from extinction.

We had been given a lot of old Christmas cakes that the shops hadn’t been able to sell. The saddlebacks loved those and especially picking out all the sultanas and raisins and cherries.
– Don Merton, in Wild South: Saving New Zealand’s Endangered Birds, Rod Morris and Hal Smith, TVNZ, 1988 p. 126

Produced by

Logo for NZ Broadcasting Corporation

NZ Broadcasting Corporation