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Local celebration of the godwits - bird of the year

October 30th, 2015
[DOC press release]

Friends of Motueka Estuaries are celebrating the arrival of the godwits back to the Motueka sandspit with an event on Sunday 15 November, between 11am and 1pm at the Old Wharf.

Spokesperson Dana Wensley says, "Friends of Motueka Estuaries are pleased this year to welcome two local iwi to the upcoming godwit (kuaka) event. Members of Ngati Rarua, Te Atiawa and associated groups will play a special role in the opening ceremony".

"We believe involvement of local iwi is crucial to the ongoing support for the kuaka and the biodiversity of the estuary. We are also pleased this year to have the continued support of Birding NZ. Through their telescopes, viewers can see the godwits in their natural habitat."

Friends of the Motueka Estuaries was founded by the late Pauline Samways and Beth Bryant. It takes a lead role each year in promoting knowledge of the sandspit and the birds that live there, through the godwit festivals and their new website.

Bar-tailed godwits migrate between New Zealand and Alaska, travelling 11,000km non-stop over 8-9 days on their journey south each September.

The Motueka sandspit is home to 2,000 - 3,000 godwits each summer as they feed in preparation for the journey back to their Alaskan breeding grounds in March. The trip back to Alaska is broken by a rest at the estuaries along the Yellow Sea.

The event starts at 11am sharp with an opening ceremony by local iwi (Te Atiawa and Ngati Rarua). Activities include viewing through telescopes, a biodiversity display, and a $2 sausage sizzle.

The friends of Motueka Estuaries are currently running a colouring competition for children 5 years and under, and a crossword competition for children 6 - 8 years. Details are on the website: The event and competitions are sponsored by Tasman District Council.

The bar-tailed godwit has just this week been crowned the New Zealand Bird of the Year by Forest and Bird.


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