Rangatira Island Resources

Black robin in persons hand © University of Canterbury 2017

We offer a range of teacher resources aligned to the New Zealand curriculum documenting bird life on Rangatira Island in the Chatham Islands.  These are suitable for all age groups. This island is very remote and can only be accessed with a special permit as it is the home to many endangered New Zealand native species including the black robin.

Birds and their habitats: which bird lives where?

Many different habitats occur on Rangatira Island and these are home to many different bird species. The introduction allows students to see the habitats on the island and be introduced to some of the bird species living there. The worksheet asks students to identify parts of birds and gives some simple information about each bird featured.

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The life of scientist

Scientists come to live and work on Rangatira Island for weeks at a time. The scientists rely on all their provisions being delivered by boat. The island has no phone or cell phone coverage or mains electricity or mains water. The scientists are studying the unique bird life on the island and, in particular, the population of black robins on the island. The worksheet asks students to consider what equipment the scientists need for their work and why they need it.

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Banding Birds

Much work on Rangatira Island involves monitoring the bird populations that are present. Scientists record this information by placing bands on the legs of the birds on the island. The introduction in this lesson allows students to see how this is done and to discuss why it is important. The worksheet asks students to interpret data from the scientists on Rangatira Island to identify facts about some of the birds living there.

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Using keys to identify birds

Rangatira Island is home to many species of birds. This activity provides a classification key to identify some of these birds. The introduction involves identifying arthropods that live on Rangatira Island.

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Food Webs

Rangatira Island supports a wide variety of species.  This activity gives students information about some of the species that live on Rangatira Island.  Students require some prior knowledge of food chains and food webs to complete this activity.


This activity poses exam-style questions that are based on a study of the differential effects of exotic predator-control on nest success of native and introduced birds in New Zealand.

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Survivor Aotearoa

This activity is based on a research study investigating the effect of predation level on the nesting behaviour of Bellbirds. The aim is to initiate discussion and interpret the results of this study.

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Hatching failure and population bottlenecks

This activity is based on a study investigating the effect of population bottleneck size on hatching failure in birds. To initiate discussion and interpret results of this study.

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