Find out how to get a permit from the Komiti Taoka Tuku Iho for the allocation and use of taoka species in Otago.

Using protecting species for traditional uses or displays

Most native land animals are protected under the Wildlife Act, and marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammals Act. This protection applies to the animals even after they have died.

In general, this means that people wishing to use these protected animals for traditional uses such as bone carving or making korowai (cloaks), or for museum displays, need an authority (permit) to do so from the Department of Conservation (DOC). 

Apply for a permit to use specimens or parts of taoka species

  • Fill out the application form (Word, 56K) to describe what you want and for what purpose.
  • Email your application to or post it to DOC at the address below.
  • DOC will send your application to the Komiti, who will consider the request and make a recommendation to DOC.
  • If the application is approved and the taoka is available, DOC will issue you a permit and the taoka can be collected from the Otago Museum.

Ngāi Tahu's role in managing taoka species

Many of these protected species are also considered taoka (treasure) by Ngāi Tahu. The Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act identifies taoka species and defines Ngāi Tahu’s role in the management of them. It also legislates that Ngāi Tahu Whānui do not require an authority under the Wildlife Act to hold specimens or parts of dead taoka species.

To enable Ngāi Tahu in Otago to manage the supply of their taoka species for cultural or other uses (such as museum displays), Ngāi Tahu and DOC have established a process to oversee the allocation of these taoka. This is implemented by the Komiti Taoka Tuku Iho, which is made up of representatives of Otago rūnaka, DCC, DOC, the Otago Museum, and an independent member.

What taoka is traditionally used and how to access it

Kā huruhuru - Feathers

The Otago Museum holds specimens of taoka birds in its freezer. Species currently or usually available include:

  • Toroa/albatross – various species suitable for feathers.
  • Kererū – usually a lot of these are available to take feathers from.
  • Ruru, kākāriki, weka, Australasian bittern/matuku-hūrepo, white-faced heron, korimako, tūī, pukeko, pīpīwharauroa – sometimes available.
  • Kāhu, kārearea, pūtakitaki, takahē, kōtuku, royal spoonbil – rarely available.  

Kā kōiwi – Bone

  • Requests for Royal toroa (albatross) bone or wing material from Taiaroa Head has to be considered by Te Rūnaka o Ōtākou.
  • Other bird-bone material can be considered by the Komiti if it falls within their jurisdiction and it is available for use.  

Kā kararehe o takaroa – Marine mammals

  • This material also comes under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and so additional approvals are required. Contact DOC for more information on this.
  • The exception is material that has naturally separated from the mammal – in this case material can be collected provided that DOC is informed as soon as possible.  

Kā rākau – Plants

  • To harvest plant material eg pīkau, harakeke, kiekie, tikumu, neinei, raupō, taramea or toetoe you need permission of the landowner (eg DOC, botanic gardens, private landowners) and the Komiti.  

Kā rimu – Seaweed

  • Maori can obtain a permit for the cultural use of seaweed via their Tāngata tiaki.

Contact for more information

Department of Conservation

DOC Customer Service Centre
Phone 0800 275 362
Address DOC offices

Or your local rūnaka office 

  • Ōtākou rūnaka office: phone +64 3 478 0352 / RD 2, Otākou
  • Puketeraki rūnaka office: phone +64 3 465 7300 / c-o Post Office, Karitane 9064
  • Moeraki rūnaka office: phone +64 33 439 4816 / Tenby Street, Moeraki, RD 2, Palmerston
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