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Keith Woodley’s 29 years at the Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre is highlighted in his new book. Photo: SUPPLIED/LUKE APPLEBY

Shorebird Centre book takes flight

Keith Woodley hopes his new book about his nest for 29 years has something for everyone.
The resident manager of the Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre said In Pursuit of Champions: The Inspiring story of the Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre was his third tale after publishing Godwits: Long Haul Champions in 2009 and Shorebirds of New Zealand: Sharing the Margins in 2012.
“It’s an updated history of the Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Naturalists’ Trust, which has been going since 1975, and the story of the shorebird centre, which opened in 1990,” he said.
“The shorebird centre itself, we see it as a community resource that’s available for people to make use of for various functions.
“It’s also an account of my time here as a resident manager, so I think a lot of people in the region would find something of interest in the story.”
Keith, who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours, said he migrated to the centre from the Kāpiti Coast in 1993.
“I became interested in birds and the people at the trust had become aware I might be available,” he said.
“They wanted someone to come and live at the place to keep the place open permanently.
“Initially no one knew how long I would be here, I thought it might be a few months to a couple of years but didn’t know it would be decades.”
Keith swapped his binoculars with writing materials for the new book four or five years ago and the final manuscript was flocked to publisher Sherlock & Co earlier this year.
“[The book] charts the people behind the trust, the early founders back in the 1970s and 1980s who saw the need for a place of some sort on the Pūkorokoro coast for a further study of shorebirds and the need to educate people about our shorebirds,” he said.
“There’s been about 43 species seen on the Firth of Thames historically but we’re also currently involved in a restoration project on the coast and a number of other activities.
“So we see ourselves as casting a watchful eye over the natural world in this region.”
Keith said the trust founders were Dick Sibson, Sylvia Reed, Beth Brown and Ronald Lockley.
“There’s also another theme in the book which charts the godwit story and the revelations about what these birds are doing,” he said.
“The trust has been connected for many years in China, South Korea, North Korea and Alaska where these birds stop, refuel and breed.”
Keith said a launch for his new book was held at the shorebird centre on November 19 and a second launch was planned at Carson’s Bookshop on November 27 at 12:30pm.