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Willowbank in the News

Kune Kune piglets in the news

Minty the Monkey makes it back home

Minty makes the New Zealand Herald

Willowbank in the UK Guardian


Willowbank To Lead Another Expedition

8th May 2015

auckland island pig 329

 Breaching the most remote corners of Fiordland, in the towering stands of aged Beech forest, is the backdrop for another Willowbank led expedition. Departing on the 12 of May, Director Michael WIllis, is set to lead an expedition in search of pigs which are presumed to roam this extremley remote and forgotten part of New Zealand.
  To establish the existance of these pigs could potentially reveal a population, that through isolation, are free from disease. To hale as 'disease free' would mean an ongoing avenue to curing such illnesses as Diabetes and Parkinson Disease, an avenue which Living Cells Technology of Auckland are extremely interested in. 
  Living Cells Technology are currently world leaders in the fight against such illnesses as Diabetes and Parkinson Disease. Using cells from Auckland Island Pigs, a previous Willowbank led expedition, this company is in second stage trials with astounding results. It is hoped that the Fiordland expedition will prove not only the existence of pigs but a potential cure for billions of people world wide.

 A Royal Baby Is Born


Cap Baby resized 2


While the birth right of our recent addition here at Willowbank is not to ascend to the British Royal Throne, like that of Princess Charlotte, they do share the same birthday! As millions around the world waited for news of the latest edition to the Royal family, so to a troop of Black capped Capuchins waited as Star, a young female, gave birth to Willowbank's latest edition. Yet to be named, this tiny bundle of joy at Willowbank is nursed by his/her diligent mother and we would love to hear of your thoughts about a name for such a royal occasion

Kaka Kapow!



Double the trouble! Willowbank has recieved another pair of South Island Kaka. These mischievious parrots are part of a nationwide breeding programme and it is our hope that this season we will see Kaka fledglings, so check them out next time you come and see us.



Skope Helps Keep our Primates Warm over Winter

16 July 2010media-lemarmedia-gibbon

Last month, as part of SKOPE's sponsorship programme, the company donated five SKOPE Airelec Tactic 2.0kW convection heaters to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch for its primate enclosures. The happy customers included Black Capuchin Monkeys, Siamang Gibbons, Ringtail Lemurs and Black and White Ruff Lemurs.

Sara Grant, SKOPE's Communications & Events Manager, caught up with the monkeys to see first hand how they were taking to their newly-warmed environment.

“Spending the afternoon with the primates was an amazing experience. It was great to see the SKOPE heaters installed and keeping the adults and their young warm, while fitting in with the eco friendly family environment Willowbank have created,” says Grant.

Janet Hellyer, Trust Manager of the New Zealand Conservation Trust, a charitable trust based at the Reserve, says it was important to make the living conditions for these species more comfortable, especially in the cold winter months. Although the enclosures had adequate shelter and bedding, before SKOPE’s donation of wall-mounted heaters, heating had been a problem.

“After researching and discussing various options, it was brought to our attention that SKOPE has wall mounted heaters which are energy efficient, which fits in with the eco friendly environment we are creating at the Reserve,” Hellyer said.

Kiwi gets younger, faster model!

June 2010

Two new North Island Brown Kiwi arrive today from Rainbow Springs to join some of Willowbank Wildlife Reserve's long term residents. It is Matt’s 20th birthday today (he was hatched on 02/06/1990) and he and Silver have been Willowbank's main breeding pair for many years. They are to be separated as Silver has become over represented in the gene pool as she has had so many offspring.

Her last chick was named ‘Api’ after Willie Apiata. (hatched this year – 24/02/10). Silver will be retired from breeding and Matt will be matched with a new lady from Rainbow Springs called ‘Koru’. She is 5 years of age.

The male to come is called Koanga Ti. He is a 4 year old and will be matched up with ‘Ono’ a 3 1/2 year old chick hatched at Willowbank. Ono has a lovely placid personality so our hopes are that the pairing will go well for the future. She is one of Matt & Silver's offspring as well and was named Ono as she hatched in 2006. (Ono in Maori means 6)

22nd Annual Canterbury Rare Breeds Auction

4 March 2010

There are a number of rare livestock breeds currently found in New Zealand. Some of these breeds are endangered in their native home ranges, so New Zealand’s genetic basis is important for their continuation.

Heritage livestock and poultry in New Zealand was founded on quite a few of these breeds. The RARE BREEDS CONSERVATION SOCIETY of New Zealand was formed to conserve, record and promote these breeds with the particular aim of maintaining genetic diversity within our livestock species.

The 22nd Annual Canterbury Rare Breeds Auction will be held at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve on Sunday 14 March 2010. This is a fun day out for both enthusiasts and spectators alike. Poultry will be under live auction from 1pm with a silent auction for livestock running throughout the day until 3pm.

This year's entries include over 650 birds from bantam, light and heavy classes including wyandotte, frizzle, pekin, australorp, silkie, leghorn,campine, ancona, rhode island, orpington and barnevelder to name but a few!

Golden, silver and white ringneck pheasants, fantail doves, sebastapol geese, turkeys and peacocks. Livestock include kune kune pigs, wiltshire sheep, anglo nubian goat, karakul sheep, gotland sheep, dexter and miniature cattle, miniature donkey and horse and llama. Also for sale will be some rare crème coloured Enderby Island rabbits, silver fox and flemish giant rabbits, and a variety of guinea pigs.

Willowbank welcomes KAKA tomorrow


Willowbank is receiving a pair of Kaka tomorrow morning from the Dunedin Botanic Gardens Aviary. The kaka is another native parrot of NZ along with the mountain parrot – the kea. The South Island kaka that is coming to Willowbank is greatly reduced in numbers due to predation. It normally lives in forested areas but is now mainly found on outlying islands.

It is a playful, acrobatic bird, olive brown in colour with some orange on its underparts, it has a massive strong, beak which it uses to find larvae in rotting wood, nectar, sap and insects. Nests are made in hollow trees.

The two that will arrive at Willowbank are a valuable breeding pair. The male is from Codfish Island and has a permanent leg injury from the renowned and thankfully now uncommon gin trap. The enclosure that they are to make home is set in the bush near the Nocturnal House where they will be left for the breeding season until after Christmas. Once they have settled this aviary will have a walk through facility so our visitors can get up close and personal to this fascinating bird.

The building of this aviary has been made possible from the generous bequest from the estate of Helen Stevenson Holmes.

BNZ customers help save the kiwi

23 June 2009media-bnz

BNZ and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve have joined together to give Christchurch BNZ customers the opportunity to win ten passes to Willowbank for supporting kiwi conservation and the environment.

Sue Eaden, BNZ Christchurch Store Manager says, “What better way to reward our customers for their support for kiwi and the environment than to give them the opportunity to see live kiwi at one of New Zealand’s leading kiwi egg incubation facilities.”

To enter customers had to either choose a BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust Eftpos card or cheque book, or switch to environmentally friendly online statements.

By choosing the BNZ Save the Kiwi Eftpos or chequebook customers can easily support BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust. Choosing the Eftpos card or cheque book customers automatically donate $10 p.a. or $4 per cheque book to BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust.

Customers who opted to switch from paper to electronic statements help support BNZ’s commitment to sustainability.

The bank has been supporting kiwi conservation for 18 years. “‘More than 1000 kiwi have been released to the wild as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg. This opportunity shows how committed we are to saving kiwi, to show customers how far their generosity goes when they donate to kiwi conservation,” says Sue Eaden.

The promotion helped BNZ raise awareness of kiwi conservation and sustainable environmental practices, like switching to electronic statements from paper. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve also has a large kiwi enclosure where visitors can view kiwi in a natural environment all day and in the evening.

One hundred per cent of donations to BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust go directly to kiwi work. The Trust helps fund projects to save kiwi nationwide, including BNZ Operation Nest Egg, which the New Zealand Conservation Trust at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve participates in.

Visit by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

30 October 2008

Details of next month’s visit to Christchurch by HRH The Princess Royal, were announced by Prime Minister Helen Clark today.

“Princess Anne, will be here representing HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at the 23rd Commonwealth Agricultural Conference. While in Christchurch, Her Royal Highness will undertake a number of engagements, including visits to organisations of which she is either patron, or in which she takes a close personal interest,” Helen Clark said.

“On arrival from London on Friday 14 November Princess Anne will attend the 2008 Royal Show at the Canterbury Agricultural Park before meeting His Excellency the Governor-General Anand Satynand. On Saturday 15 November she will attend the Canterbury Racing Club’s 2008 New Zealand Cup meeting at Riccarton and in the evening attend a fundraising dinner for the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

“Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker will host a civic reception for Her Royal Highness on Sunday, 16 November. Engagements on Monday 17 November include visits to the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals and Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps at Burnham Military Camp, Christchurch Riding for the Disabled and the Antarctic Heritage Trust. Before departing New Zealand on Tuesday 18 November Princess Anne will attend a ‘Meet the Volunteers’ morning tea with Save the Children New Zealand, visit a Life Education Trust mobile classroom and officially open the new public kiwi viewing centre at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve,” Helen Clark said.


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