A number of cheeky, colourful kakariki or red-crowned parakeet were released at Cape Sanctuary this week.
All 44 of the birds were transferred from Kapiti Island in two trips to join well-established species such as the brown kiwi, pateke/brown teal, whitehead, rifleman, robin and tomtit at the sanctuary.
Cape Sanctuary Manager Tamsin Ward-Smith said 36 healthy kakariki arrived by helicopter on Saturday at the Cape Sanctuary to a large welcoming party of tangata whenua, volunteers and staff.
"The birds were blessed on Kapiti Island by Kaumatua Ake Tiaki and Tuki Takiwa through the Te Runanga O Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, who also accompanied them to their new home at Cape Sanctuary. They just rocketed out of the boxes."
Another eight kakariki were transferred on Wednesday.
"We were all very anxious from capture until release as wild kakariki are very prone to stress both in the aviary where they are held prior to transfer and during transit," Sanctuary co-manager Kahori Nakagawa said.
"It was a huge relief to hear that the birds all arrived safely. We are extremely grateful for all the support from Iwi, volunteers and DoC to make this transfer a success - now it's up to the birds."
The sanctuary was now the largest site for the protected native species on mainland New Zealand.
Kakariki were particularly vulnerable to predators as they spent much of their time feeding on the ground or nesting in cavities and holes close to the ground.
Consequently, the bird, which was once widespread now occupies less than 10 per cent of their historic range, and tended to inhabit offshore islands.
Kapiti Island has healthy populations of many of New Zealand's rare and endangered wildlife species including kakariki, which flourish there.
Since 2006, the landowners of Cape Sanctuary have worked to create a wildlife haven on the peninsula by building a 10.5km predator-proof fence, and returning many of the native species which had been lost.
Cape Sanctuary was also co-ordinating a breeding and release programme using red-crowned kakariki chicks sourced from Matiu - Somes Island in the Wellington harbour.
The kakariki would be hand-raised at Mt Bruce - Pukaha and transferred to a local breeder in Havelock North.
Offspring from the captive birds would then be released at Cape Sanctuary over the next few years to support the establishment of kakariki transferred from the wild this week.
"I am very happy to be able to use my facilities to breed kakariki for release into the sanctuary," Havelock North kakariki breeder John Berry said.
"They are such vibrant, chatty and inquisitive birds I hope that they will do well out there."