The award-winning efforts of the dedicated volunteers working to save the unique but endangered birds of the Ashley-Rakahuri River are celebrated in this short film.
The birds evolved to live on Canterbury’s braided rivers, which themselves are almost unique in the world. They include the wrybill plover, the only species in the world with a sideways bending bill. Other specialist braided river birds are the black-fronted tern and the black-billed gull.
The birds are threatened by introduced predators, exotic weeds and human disturbance, so in 1999 concerned volunteers formed the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group (ARRG) with the mission ‘of protecting birds and their habitat in the Ashley River / Rakahuri, while recognising essential river control works and sympathetic recreational users.
ARRG has been successful, and won awards for its endeavours – including the 2018 Practical Management Award given out by the Australasian Wildlife Management Society. Some say the Group has set an example of how conservation actions can be carried out by a community.
This 18 minute video by local film-maker Tony Benny follows a year’s activities, with stunning footage of the birds and their breeding stages, along with the challenges they face. It includes interviews with river users about how awareness by the general public is being improved.
The cinema will be showing this documentary free of charge, however as it will be on screen between between paid movies, attendees do need to be at the cinema by 6.00pm sharp.