White-faced storm petrel translocation project 2019-2021


From 2019 to 2021 FOMI translocated white-faced storm petrels / rōrō, takahikare-moana from Rekohu / Chathams to Mana Island over a three-year period. This work is made possible through funding from our major sponsor OMV New Zealand Ltd. 

Overall aim of the translocation project

To establish a self-sustaining population of white-faced storm petrels / rōrō, takahikare-moana on Mana Island – to help restore the cycle of nutrients from sea to land, and improve the habitat for other animals and plants.

This translocation was part of the ongoing restoration of Mana’s original ecosystem based on a plan developed by DOC in 1999.

Conservation outcomes – short to long term

  • To have translocated up to 250 WFSP chicks (one cohort of up to 50 and two cohorts of 100 each) by Feb 2021, with at least 238 fledging in healthy condition.
  • To have at least 15 pairs of WFSP breeding on Mana Island within 10 years.
  • To have a growing population of WFSP on Mana Island that exceeds 50 pairs and has demonstrable ecological benefits to other species on the island, within 30 years.

People involved in the translocation project

This project was managed by FOMI. The chicks were selected by wildlife biologist Cathy Mitchell and DOC staff, from the source island – Rangatira / Hokorereoro / South East Island in Rekohu / Chathams.

Representatives from Hokotehi Moriori and Ngāti Mutunga travelled with the birds from Rekohu and formally handed them over to Mana Island local iwi Ngāti Toa.

Trained volunteers, led by Cathy Mitchell, fed the chicks for up to three weeks on Mana Island, until the birds fledged. 

Project was completed in 2021

Translocations of 48, 98 and 97 chicks were successfully completed in 2019, 2020 and 2021.Total chicks fledged over the three years was 243 of 248 chicks transferred (98%). Our translocation processes are considered to have been very successful, achieving the safe transfer over large distances, feeding and fledging of this very small species of seabird – a first within New Zealand.

Find out more

2019 Summary report for white-faced storm petrel translocation

2020 Summary report for white-faced storm petrel translocation 

2021 Summary report for white-faced storm petrel translocation

Videos showing chicks being collected, feeding, fledging

News media

More seabirds for Mana Island – RNZ National, Our Changing World, Alison Ballance – March 2021

FOMI news release about first translocation in 2019

Mana Island greets the return of the white-faced storm petrel – Stuff and DomPost 16 February 2019

Seabirds make 800km journey – by boat, plane and helicopter – to predator-free oasis in New Zealand – TVNZ 12 February 2019

Sardine smoothies for Mana Island’s newest petrel chicks – RNZ National 11 February 2019

Seabirds released on Mana Island to establish breeding population – Stuff and DomPost 12 February 2019

In 2020 we posted regular updates on the progress of the chicks on the FOMI Facebook page  in February and March. 

White-faced storm petrel chick, 6-7 weeks old. Photo: Cathy Mitchell.

White-faced storm petrel ‘walking on water’ Photo: John Kyngdon.