kaka stewart island

My occupation is ornithologist

In 2019 we asked the local Halfmoon Bay Schools students to tell us about the year 2050 and what the island is like now we have a Predator Free Rakiura.

by tai simpson, age 11

It is the 26th of June 2050. My name is Tai Simpson. I am 44 years of age. My occupation is ornithologist. I work in Stewart Island and my job involves studying every aspect of birds including bird songs, flight patterns, physical appearance, migration patterns and population decreases and increases.

The bird life here on the island is abundant due to it being predator free. But let me take you back a few years, when it wasn’t predator free. There were three kinds of rats; Kiore, Ship and Norway rats. In July 2019 a group of people came together to sign a document to make Stewart Island predator free by 2050. It was a massive job. But we did it!!!

Getting back to my day to day job. I work 50 hours a week in the most stunning environment, native bush and bird song like you have never heard before. I often take my jetpack to fly to places around the island. It is so convenient!!

The most wonderful part of my job is that we have managed to save birds close to extinction. Such as: Kakapo, Magenta petrel, Fairy Tern, White Heron, Black Stilt and Short-tailed Bat.

Long tailed bat. Photo: Colin O'Donnell

On the 5th August 2030 the lower South Island was hit with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake but luckily the Islanders built an invisible water wall so we had no tsunami, but in saying that, land formations have changed. Down by Pegasus the earthquake opened up a cave and now there are thousands of thousands of Short-Tailed Bat living there thanks to being predator free. I also work on moving other animals to the island like Tuatara and making sure the birds don’t pick on them.

I’m so glad that the right choices were made when we had the chance

Tai Simpson

Helping penguins is a seasonal activity as they don’t all live on the island all year round, but when the season does come I help with Yellow-Eyed penguins, Fiordland Crested penguins and Little Blue penguins. Penguins are my favourite to work with because when I was 12, I went out and did Yellow-Eyed penguin counting with Old Sandy King who now knits the community hats.

I am self-employed. I also take out schools and groups. The local school chooses six kids every month who I then take out to help record the birds and animals. We usually stay out for two weeks and walk down to Pegasus to see the Short-Tailed Bats and then fly back in our jetpacks.

I’m so glad that the right choices were made when we had the chance and what joy it brings me to be working in Stewart Island as I was brought up on the Island as a child and had so many wonderful experiences.

Written by Tai Simpson

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