10 Apr 2011

Internationally recognised conservationist dies

7:01 pm on 10 April 2011

A New Zealand conservationist famous around the world for his work with endangered birds has died at his home in Tauranga.

Don Merton, who was 72, is credited with saving the Chatham Islands black robin, leading the team that created the species' only viable breeding pair.

Any of the robins existing today are descended from Old Blue who was introduced to her other half, Old Yellow, in the 1970s.

Mr Merton was also heavily involved in efforts to save the kakapo, dating back to 1960.

He received a variety of awards, including a place on the United Nations Environment Programme's Global 500 Roll of Honour.

Mr Merton is survived by his wife Margaret and son David.