On The Wing – Urban Release of the New Zealand falcon
In November 2013 Rotorua Museum and Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre formed a partnership to help secure the future of kārearea, the New Zealand falcon, by releasing them into Rotorua’s Government Gardens – the first urban release of a threatened species in New Zealand. A second release of two female chicks was made in early January 2015 and a third clutch of one male and one female were released in mid-October 2015.
A male from the first release and a female from the second set up home amidst the mountain biking trails of the Whakarewarewa forest and went on to produce and rear 6 chicks to maturity. The female has since passed away and after a year without a partner, the male has gone on to find a new life partner and produced another 6 chicks over the 2019/2020 seasons.
If you find yourself the target of dive bombing falcons, please avoid the area in the future and let us know where the incident took place so that we can take steps to protect the nesting falcons.
When visiting Rotorua Government Gardens, look out for Hatupatu, the mature male kārearea who still visits from time to time. He signals his arrival with a strident ‘kek kek kek’ call.
The kārearea is found only in Aotearoa New Zealand and is a protected species at risk of extinction. Falcon numbers are declining as a result of predation by introduced pests, habitat loss and human threats such as deliberate shooting. This urban release project is supported by the Department of Conservation.
Memorial Bridge – WW1 Commemorations
Marking 100 years since Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, the Memorial Bridge over Sulphur Lake in Rotorua’s Government Gardens was officially opened at a public ceremony on 5 August 2014.
The location of the bridge in Government Gardens, previously known as Sanatorium Reserve, has a strong connection to World War One. The land was gifted to the Crown by Ngāti Whakaue in 1880 “for the benefit of the people of the world – hei oranga mō ngā iwi katoa o te Ao.”
The first Sanatorium Hospital opened in 1886 adjacent to Sulphur Lake, and the Bath House – now home to Rotorua Museum – opened in 1908. Both were used as part of an holistic treatment regime which combined physical and psychological therapy for soldiers returning from the war.
Soldiers from King George V Soldiers’ Convalescent Home on Pukeroa Hill, where Rotorua Hospital now stands, were also treated. In 1916 an average of 63 military patients were receiving balneological (bathing) treatments each day.
The healing geothermal waters and the beautiful, peaceful surroundings of the gardens played a significant role in this treatment, becoming part of the soldiers’ recuperation and healing journey. A century ago, convalescing returned soldiers would have walked the perimeter of this tranquil lake – originally created to provide an area of picturesque serenity and contemplation to assist in the healing process.
Memorial Bridge, recycled and rebuilt from a footbridge originally spanning the city’s Utuhina Stream, will also become part of a new sculpture trail linking key city attractions, including Rotorua Museum, Blue Baths, Rotorua Arts Village and Polynesian Spa.
Rotorua District Council’s Community Arts Advisor, Marc Spijkerbosch, organises a great programme of annual community arts events each year. Recent and regular events include:
- Music at the Rotunda – weekends in February & March each year
- Children’s Day at the Redwoods – March each year
- Chorus Cabinets around Rotorua
- NZ Music Month – May each year
- Memorial Bridge – opened 5 August 2014
- CBD Murals and Sculptures around the city
- Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail – opened November 2014
- Airport Murals
- Art exhibitions in the Galleria at Rotorua Lakes Council