Bringing them back to the Maunga
Kōkako once had a strong presence on Mt Pirongia. However due to constant pest threats, the last birds of the diminishing population were removed in the 1990s for their own survival. This photo of one of the last Pirongia kōkako captured was taken by Gerry Kessels.
As a society, one of our founding aims was to hear the call of the kōkako on Mt Pirongia once again, a dream which is now coming true.
2017 Translocation Report
The first 20 Kokako were released on 20 June on Mt Pirongia along the Mangakaraa Nature Walk. Captured at Waipapa, Pureora Forest under the leadership of ecologist Dave Bryden, there were 12 males, 7 females and one bird of unconfirmed sex. In October, a monitoring team located 16 kokako, 15 within our pest control area and 1 outside. 11 males and 4 females were found plus one bird of uncertain sex. Only one confirmed pair was found, and these began nesting in December.
Some patterns have emerged from the monitoring: all the birds were found on ridges and in the mid elevations of the maunga. They also appear to favour tawa trees as they were often first found in these trees. Mt Pirongia has wonderful groves of large tawa.
Our post release monitoring is used to inform effective predator management to help newly established populations to grow rapidly. From our annual surveys we know that 82% of our 44 translocated birds have been re-sighted since release and that as at 2020 we had 11 unrelated founders (nesting pairs producing chicks on Mt Pirongia). Below is a selection of photographs of Pirongia kokako.
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THE KŌKAKO PROJECT
A 1,000 hectare bait station grid was established to protect a remnant kōkako population at Okahukura, Northern Pureora Forest following our model previously used on Mt Pirongia. This was supported in 2015 with funding from DoC's Community Fund as well as the support of Ngati Rereahu.
80 volunteers came to help with the project, 63 of which had not volunteered for us before; and in our first season rats were reduced from 46.6% to 3.3%.
A kōkako survey showed there are now 45 pairs and 6 singles in the area, compared to 22 pairs in the last survey in 2012. Jeanie Allport is the co-ordinator of the project.