Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Kōkako have been released onto Mount Pirongia in a bid to return the songbirds to the mountain.

Date:  16 July 2018

Members of the Pirongia’s Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society, iwi, DOC staff and members of the public gathered at Pirongia Forest Park Lodge at on Saturday, (July 14) to release 14 kōkako.

The kōkako travelled in boxes were lined up outside the lodge at half past seven in the morning, in silence, and one by one carried up the mountain by a member of the society.

Crowds gathered as they were brought to the entrance of the Mangakara Nature Walk. They were released, two-at-time while kaumatua Dr Tom Roa said a prayer over the birds.  

All the birds darted out and some hung about in the trees and sang before flying away. It was very emotional for some of the society members.

Kōkako were once common on Pirongia. The last known kōkako disappeared from the mountain in the 1990s due to animal pests. Extensive pest-control by the society has made the mountain safe to bring the at-risk native bird back to the maunga.

Chair of the Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Society Clare St Pierre: “The last remaining kōkako were caught in 1996 on the southern slopes of Mount Pirongia and transferred to a Captive Breeding Program in the hope that their genes wouldn’t be lost”

“Their offspring found their way to Kapiti Island and Tiritiri Matangi island. It is from Tiritiri Matangi Island that the kōkako released were sourced”

The volunteers from Tiritiri Matangi and the Restoration Society involved in the capture targeted kōkako that had Pirongia DNA, maintaining the lineage of the founder kokako.

“To undertake the capture, there was a 13-strong team which included the leading lights of Kōkako Translocation Technology New Zealand. With the aim of filling a quota of 14 birds, six pairs and two females were captured” said Clare St Pierre.

DOC King Country Operations Manager Natasha Hayward: "The society's hopes are to establish a viable kōkako population of at least 40 birds on Pirongia within the next three years. As well as Waipapa (Pureora Forest), some birds come from the population on Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf."

The kōkako will be left to settle into their new home over the next few months while male and female birds form breeding pairs and establish their territories. 

Their breeding will be monitored for five years with checks made on the number of eggs produced and whether chicks have fledged successfully. Any chicks found will be banded.

Any sightings of kōkako can be reported though an app developed by the Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Society, called Kōkako. It enables people who hear or see kōkako to input GPS locations and other information that assists the efforts of the Society.


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