When Whangarei ornithologist David Crockett started looking for the believed-to-be extinct Chatham Island taiko the experts told him he was chasing a taipo - or ghost.
But this week Mr Crockett is back in the Chathams celebrating 35 years since he and a small team of dedicated volunteers rediscovered the bird.
The Taiko Trust, a local conservation organisation on the Chathams, is marking the 35th anniversary of the taiko (magenta petrel or Pterodroma magentae) with a week-long series of events on the main Chatham island.
Mr Crockett rediscovered the Chatham Island taiko on New Year's Day 1978 - after it was thought to have been extinct for 111 years - and has been working to ensure its survival ever since.
His efforts since have included setting up a 3.5ha predator-free area behind an 800m wire fence. The rediscovery of the shy bird sparked huge excitement in the bird-spotting world.
The land for the Tuku Reserve was donated by Manuel and Evelyn Tuanui and Taiko Trust chairwoman Liz Tuanui said the week's events would enable Chatham Islanders to celebrate with the original taiko team and mark how far conservation had come.
Chatham Islanders were a key part of that, she said, but the four people mainly responsible for the rediscovery were Mr Crockett and his wife Ruth, Manuel and Evelyn Tuanui.
Liz Tuanui said open days are being held at the original "taiko camp" where volunteers working on the taiko rediscovery lived during the months they camped on the island waiting for the birds to return to breed.
Other open days will be held at the new predator-free area on private land where a second breeding area is being set up. Activities will include night-time spot-lighting to watch for taiko.
The unveiling of a monument to the find takes place at 11am on Saturday.
Taiko are a night bird and live in burrows in the ground.
Extremely rare, there are about 140 birds left.