Kakaruai/South Island robin transfer to Chalky Inlet

Kakaruai/South Island robin flown to Chalky Inlet

The Chalky Digits badge



- thanks to chalkydigits clothing company


chalkydigits clothing company crafted a funky wooden pin badge the sale of which funded the translocation of 50 kakaruai in March 2010 from Breaksea and Anchor Islands down to the very south-west corner of New Zealand, to the Passage and Chalky Islands in Chalky Inlet.

1906 - "there are (still) robins on Passage Island!"

Stewart Island RobinOur first conservation ranger Richard Henry, based in and known as the ‘hermit of Dusky Sound,’ did sail further south while in Fiordland and although he despaired when in 1900 he first sighted a stoat on Resolution Island, in 1906 he wrote with excitement in his journal “….there are [still] robins on Passage Island.  I thought they were all gone.” 

Unfortunately that did not last. Robins were wiped out on all three Chalky Inlet islands decades before the successful stoat eradication that in 1999, ninety years later, took place on these islands.



Our first predator-free islands

Chalky Island location mapCreating a significant conservation milestone, Chalky and the Passage Islands were the first islands in history where an attempt was made to eradicate stoats from an island. The good news is that it was successful and all three islands have been predator free ever since. 

The trap network established to eradicate stoats is checked and re-baited six monthly to prevent stoats reestablishing on the islands.  All three islands are isolated from the mainland (1km+), making it very difficult for any predator to find its way back to their shores.

2010 - chalkydigits begins its commitment to Chalky Inlet

Chalky Digits

The $7,623 sponsorship from chalkydigits that enabled us to reintroduce the robins to these islands will help to restore them to their natural state prior to the invasion of stoats.

We can now share Richard Henry's excitement, along with those who made it possible, especially chalkydigits owner Liz Collins and their crew who helped over a 5 day period of challenging Fiordland weather to firstly capture the birds from Breaksea and Anchor Islands and then in a very small window of clear weather to helicopter with them down to Chalky Inlet releasing them back to one of their natural habitats.

Although this was a one-off project, chalkydigits have an ongoing relationship with the Trust and are continuing sales of their funky badges for further conservation projects.

The South Island robin was once common throughout forests in the South Island. Today however this bold opportunistic bird is often absent when we take a walk in the forest. Although still present in pockets on the mainland, robust populations remain only on predator-free islands.

From the news archives of chalkydigits kakaruai project

Pin badge
The wooden badge on sale

Last winter chalkydigits clothing company crafted a distinctive pin badge of our native South Island Robin in aid of returning these vulnerable birds to the off shore sanctuary, Chalky Island. AND THEY HAVE DONE IT! Thanks to a huge response from the public, in March chalkydigits will be travelling to the island with the similar name in Fiordland to release these cheeky wee birds (which originally inhabited the island prior to a fatal stoat invasion) and they are taking one lucky chalkydigits fan with them!

Winner - Jenni PelvinWinner - Jeni Pelvin

Jeni Pelvin of Dunedin won chalkydigits summer Chalky Island competition and now she will heading off on the trip of a lifetime, helping to make conservation history in New Zealand. The project involves being flown by helicopter to the remote island to release the birds, heading by boat back to the mainland to capture more birds from the bush for the second release, and then back to Te Anau by helicopter.

Jeni is particularly excited at this opportunity as conservation has been a lifelong passion for her; she studied Ecology at Otago Uni and her family is active in local conservation initiatives in Dunedin. “South Island Robins are national treasures.  What a privilege to be able to participate in chalkydigits Chalky Island project - I'm stoked!” says Jeni.
Now, the chalkydigits staff just has to get ready for their momentous trip down to the deep south and somehow still manage to get their Winter 2010 range completed and in store by mid-March. “It’s worth every ounce of extra pressure this season for this awesome opportunity to help protect one of New Zealand’s unique species for the generations to come” says the director of chalkydigits, Liz Collins. “We genuinely love our land at chalkydigits, it’s most often the inspiration for the graphics on our garments and so we’re really glad to be able to advance its preservation”.