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10 May 2019

Just like the thought and deliberation put in by prospective parents, the responsibility of naming a takahē chick was not taken lightly by Lee Meese from Christchurch, who had her name ‘Poa’ selected from 1800 other entries in a recent ‘name a takahē chick’ competition by Mitre 10.

Spotting the competition, Lee did plenty of research before submitting the winning name ‘Poa’, short for ‘poales’, the biological order of plant that tussock fit under.

“The thing that stood out was the grass and tussocks. That’s roots for me, and where you come from is part of who you are! Poa was pulled from a plant name; it felt strong for me and fitting for a New Zealander - male or female!” says Lee. 

The competition by Mitre 10, a sponsor of the Takahē Recovery Programme since 2005, invited Kiwis to submit a name for one of the chicks and become part of the history of the recovery of the takahē. From more than 1800 entries, the final name was chosen by the Takahē Team.

“I’m really excited to be part of something important, even if it’s just choosing a chicks name! Saving an endangered species is a massive thing,” says Lee. 

In 2013, Lee excitedly took her two young children to visit the ‘surprise chick’ at Willowbank, taking plenty of photos and explaining how rare the takahē were and that they may never see one again outside of a sanctuary. 

Since then, the efforts of the Takahē Recovery Programme have meant that young generations of Kiwis, like Lee’s two children, can see takahē in the wild – efforts that have bought the bird back from the brink of extinction. 

“We were very pleased to see the winner had made the connection between tussock grasslands to the takahē story. One of the Takahē Recovery Programme’s advocacy goals is to increase public awareness about the vital role this habitat plays in takahē conservation and we thought the name Poa was a perfect fit” says Takahē Advocacy Ranger Julie Harvey. 

Mitre 10 General Manager Marketing Jules Lloyd-Jones says it was amazing to see not only the large number of entries, but the quality of the entries and the thought that would have gone into them. 

“As a New Zealand company, we are proud to be involved in ensuring the takahē remain a part of our culture for generations to come; and from the large number of entries in our competition, we can see that there are heaps of Kiwis out there that feel the same,” says Jules.  

As part of the prize, Lee has won a trip to Queenstown and Fiordland to visit the Burwood Takahē Centre, and, it turns out, the trip will have extra special meaning. 

“It’s a huge bonus, and I’m pretty excited since I have never been there. And when I told hubby, he said it could be our honeymoon! We’ve never had one and we have been married for 14 years!” laughs Lee. 

Mitre 10 has been supporting the DOC Takahē Recovery Programme since 2005. As a national partner and more recently as official supplier since 2016, Mitre 10 has helped grow the takahē population by providing the tools and materials to help DOC upgrade breeding units, construct new holding pens and enclosures, purchase incubators and improve monitoring and control of predators.