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 were taken from one island to another more hospitable island in a desperate rescue mission. This was part of an incredible conservation success story led by Don Merton and his NZ Wildlife Service team. Seven Black Robins and Project Takahē captured viewers' imaginations as part of an acclaimed series of 'rare bird' films that screened on TV series Wild South. They helped forge the reputation of TVNZ’s Natural History Unit (later NHNZ).
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!"– Cameraman Paul Donovan on the release of the first black robin on Mangere Island, in 1988 book Wild South: Saving New Zealand’s Endangered Birds, by Rod Morris and Hal Smith
Made in cooperation with the NZ Wildlife Service