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The Black Robin - A Chatham Island Story Television – 1989 Nature Documentary

The Black Robin - A Chatham Island Story

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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.

Key Cast & Crew

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Rod Morris

Director, Producer

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Richard Thomas


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David Watts


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.
– Cameraman Paul Donovan, in Wild South: Saving New Zealand’s Endangered Birds, by Rod Morris and Hal Smith, 1988