Ruru release plan for expo 

Ōhaupō’s Judy Fentress with one of the ruru under her care.

When DOC-registered native bird rescuer Judy Fentress was invited to be part of Dorothy Wakeling’s Project Ruru weekend at Tauwhare’s Sculpture Park, she initially bowed out because there wasn’t a single ruru among the hundreds of birds in her care.

Just days later, the first of two ruru (or morepork) chicks arrived for rehabilitation and Judy changed her mind.

“It seemed fate stepped in,” she smiled.

The upshot will see Ōhaupō-based Judy not only giving a talk on the ruru on both days of the event, but at around 4pm on Sunday July 10, she hopes to be able to release the elder of the two chicks into a specially selected part of the Sculpture Park grounds.

“It will be perfect, and Dorothy was delighted at the idea,” Judy said.

“So, we’re hoping for good weather.  I won’t release the chick unless the conditions are right for it.”

Dorothy and John Wakeling’s Sculpture Park at the Waitakaruru Arboretum is an extraordinary intersection of nature and art.  It borders to the Waitakaruru stream, and as the word waitakaruru is Māori for ‘owl by the water’, the park’s decision to draw attention to the bird and the measures needed to protect it seemed a natural fit for a launch at the start of the school holidays.

The 17.5 hectare park was built in a disused quarry and is run by the Art-in-Nature Arboretum Trust.

Dorothy said Project Ruru would see the trust team up with 15 artists, the Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre, Wintec and Mitre 10 MEGA Cambridge to put the spotlight on the ruru, New Zealand’s only surviving native owl and a bird under threat from predators such as stoats and possums.

Artists including renowned metal artist couple Nathan and Destine Hull, glass artist Karin Barr, ceramic artist Sylvia Sinel and Hamilton metal artist Matthew James, have created numerous ruru sculptures which will remain in the park.  Wintec students are making 20 ruru nesting boxes with materials donated by Mitre 10 MEGA Cambridge.

They will be installed in trees throughout the Waikato.

The concept to hold a Project Ruru weekend came from former Trust chair Felicity Campbell who wanted to highlight a bird that many never see.  Weekend activities will include ruru-linked games, presenters and workshops with activities geared to kids.

The talks by Judy Fentress on her work are sure to be interesting.  The US-born woman has become widely recognised for the work she does with injured and ill native, exotic and domestic birds.  It is a far cry from her long-time career in finance, one that saw her work in Switzerland for many years with her systems analyst husband Dave.
Since settling here in the early 1990s, Judy has established a complex comprising 21 walk-in aviaries, five incubators, a clinic and more.

Tending them all is a 24/7 job that is a credit to her passion and work ethic.

For more details to www.sculpturepark.co.nz

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