Chicken squad dubbed new "heroes" of Great Barrier Island

An Auckland chicken squad have become unlikely heroes, giving even more back to the community they're helping to protect. 

In April, a group of around 200 chickens were brought to Aotea/Great Barrier Island as part of an Auckland Council biosecurity experiment to fight against invasive Australian plague skinks, formerly known as the 'rainbow' skink. 

The chickens were released on the island to hunt down the plague skinks after they were discovered in 2013. The skinks threaten native lizards as they compete for food and habitat. 

Biosecurity manager Phil Brown appeared on The Project in April to discuss how they've trained the chickens to hunt down the skinks. He said more "experienced" chickens were taken to help show the less experienced chickens how to hunt the skinks. 

But all those chickens produce a lot of eggs on the island. This provided an opportunity for the already heroic chickens to give back to the community. Auckland Council organised the eggs to be sent to the Auckland City Mission. 

Around 60 to 60 dozen eggs are delivered to the Mission per week - that's around 700 to 1000 eggs, Auckland Council told Newshub. 

"We were delighted to be approached by Auckland Council with the opportunity to get a regular supply of eggs," says Mission chief executive Chris Farrelly. 

"In the past 12 months the Mission has provided 15,000 emergency food parcels to families and individuals. The food parcels contain staple items to help make meals for around four days. To be able to include such a great source of protein as eggs in the food parcels is absolutely amazing."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff tweeted his approval on Tuesday, saying: "Chickens eating invading Aussie skinks laying eggs helping feed vulnerable Auckland families."

"We work closely with Chris Farrelly and the team at the City Mission to help those who are struggling in our city. They do great work and it's fantastic that we can provide more help by providing healthy food," said Mr Goff. 

The eggs are transported from the island by SeaLink, the Great Barrier ferry service. 

Newshub