2 Apr 2013

Native birds perish in drought

10:20 pm on 2 April 2013

Native plants and endangered birds including kiwi are the latest to suffer at the hands of the drought.

Trees and animals are dying, and sanctuaries and regional parks are worried about the risk of fire and the need to close if the parched conditions don't improve.

At Tawharanui Regional Park in the Auckland region, dried-up waterways mean wildlife are running out of food.

Open sanctuaries co-ordinator at Auckland Council Matt Maitland says seven pateke, or brown teal ducks, as well as kiwi and other native birds have died.

Many of the park's native plants are now wilted and brown.

A conservation forest in Waitakere, Ark in the Park, is having similar problems. Manager Gillian Wadams says mahoe and kawakawa are wilting and there are cracks in the soil in what is normally a rainforest environment.

Matiu Somes Island in Wellington Harbour has had to be closed intermittently because of an increased fire risk.

A ban on using water outside is in place in the region and the island's lead ranger, Jo Greenman, says not being able to water nursery plants means their growth is being stunted.

Ms Greenman says normally heat-loving tuatara are staying in their burrows because it is too dry for them outside.

The entire North Island and Buller and Grey districts of the South Island's West Coast have been declared drought zones.