The Rooster Volunteers group who look after the rooster colony at Onetangi Sports Park are dismayed they still have to ask people to stop abandoning roosters at the park. Spokeswoman Deborah Harte says someone recently dumped 25 roosters at the park, throwing the colony into chaos.
“This gang of roosters have been witnessed by the volunteers and members of the public viciously attacking and killing nearly all of the pre-existing birds. It has been a harrowing experience.” Rooster dumping has been a problem on Waiheke since the late 1990s when a large colony of the birds started to accumulate at Mātiatia. Tourists and locals fed them, and they became a bit of a visitor attraction.
Auckland Council was then persuaded by the community to move them to the current colony at the entrance to the Onetangi Sports Park instead of culling the roosters – and volunteer groups such as Caring for the Roosters of Waiheke and Friends of the Onetangi Roosters started feeding and looking after the birds, to prevent them getting and spreading disease.
Deborah says although the colony is a popular stop with tour companies, and the volunteers do their best, it’s not a sanctuary and is no holiday resort for the roosters. “For them, it’s more like a gritty prison drama down there.”
Such an unnaturally large group of solely male birds, around 40 at present, leads to frustration and violence. When new birds are abandoned at the park, they are attacked by the older roosters and it takes a long time, if ever, for the flock to accept them, she says.
• Paul Mitchell
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