We recently joined our friends at Matuku Link to survey for the elusive pūweto! A small dark-coloured rail, pūweto (spotless crake) are found in pockets of freshwater wetlands scattered throughout Aotearoa, with their largest populations in the North Island.

Bird keepers Suzie, Sarah and fieldwork coordinator Derryn met up with Matuku Link trustee John, secretary Annalily and volunteers to search for this bird in the Te Henga/Bethells wetland areas. Pūweto are an ‘indicator species’ which means their presence in a particular wetland signals the overall health of the ecosystem, making them a good species to monitor over time.

Sadly, over 90% of New Zealand’s wetland areas have been drained and cleared for agriculture which has had a huge impact on all of the species which need these habitats to survive. Pūweto require vegetation such as raupo and kuta to forage and nest within.

The survey team used a recorded sound of their calls, known as playback, to help with surveying efforts and after two days of monitoring, two pūweto were physically sighted, with 13 call responses heard at 38 listening posts within the area.

The Matuku Link community group are doing incredible work to restore native forests and wetlands in this area and the hope is that this restoration work, coupled with sustained predator control that Auckland Zoo’s pest management team have been assisting with, will help all of the native species found here, including the pūweto, to thrive.