Native Bird Returns to Belmont Lower Hutt after a Century


Lower Hutt Western Hills Belmont

The native whitehead has been spotted in residential Belmont for the first time in more than a century.

Whiteheads disappeared from Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt Valley in the late 1800s as native forest became farmland and a host of introduced pests chewed on the remaining forest and the birds themselves. Under attack from possums, rats, stoats, weasels and ferrets, whiteheads retreated into the Tararua Ranges.

A Belmont resident called Greater Wellington in March about the sighting. She had never seen whiteheads in the area previously. Other Belmont residents have also been talking about seeing whiteheads in the surrounding bush for the first time.

GW Parks Principal Advisor Philippa Crisp is delighted with the news of another native bird species re-occupying its former territory after pest control work.

“We were excited in 2004 when bellbirds were recorded for the first time in decades in Korokoro Valley. Now it is great to hear that whiteheads are also able to expand their range and colonise these bush remnants.”
Whiteheads have been present for some time in large tracts of forest in the upper valley such as Akatarawa Forest, and in Keith George Memorial Park, near Silverstream, where volunteers have been controlling possums for 10 years. It now appears that they are moving south into areas that have more recently had possum control programmes.

Suburban Belmont adjoins a large GW/Hutt City Council initiative to control possums along the bush reserves in the western hills from Korokoro to Belmont. Possums are also being controlled in Korokoro Valley and Speedy’s Reserve as part of GW’s Belmont Regional Park pest control programme.

Regional Sustainability Chairperson, Chris Laidlaw says: “This is a great example of how the native birds and forest in the region benefit from pest control. Many of New Zealand’s plants and animals can flourish when introduced pests stop eating them.”

Greater Wellington controls possums in other reserves in Wellington, Porirua and Hutt City and the Kapiti District as part of its Key Native Ecosystem programme, aimed at protecting and enhancing native plants and animals at selected sites in the region. This regional programme to reduce possums has improved the overall health of the bush remnant network, encouraging native birds to move into these areas and breed.

For more information contact
Jim Flack
Communications Adviser, Catchment Division
06 370 5642, 027 228 3067


Whitehead feeding Chick

Whitehead feeding Chick