Kokako birdsong rings out in Kauri Coast forests

  • Maggie Barry
Arts, Culture and Heritage

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says there’s been a more than thousand percent increase in the number of kokako in Kauri Coast forests since 1990 due to the continued use of 1080 and trapping.

“An aerial 1080 drop in 1990 is credited with saving the kokako from local extinction and its continued use along with trapping has seen the population grow from a low of 5 pair in 1990 to 60 pair today, as well as 29 single kokako,” Ms Barry says.

“Without the sustained predator control these birds wouldn’t survive in the Waipoua, Waima and Mataraua forests and the fact that population has grown to one of the most robust managed populations proves yet again the value of 1080 to knock down rats and possums.”

 “The increase in kokako shows what’s possible when you keep predators down and proves how vital it is that we achieve the ultimate goal of Predator Free 2050.”

“Many kokako pair seen over the last breeding season had juvenile birds with them, indicating a good breeding season.”

 “An 1100% increase represents significant success and is down to annual rat and possum control over 20 years. There’ve been 4 aerial 1080 operations just in Waipoua between 1990 and 2014 plus trapping.”

DOC has used a bait station network to control rats and possums and a stoat trap line that’s grown from 300 hectares in 2003 to 913 hectares today.

“No other bird evokes our ancient forest like the kokako. It has the most haunting birdsong in the New Zealand bush,” Ms Barry says.

“Research during the 1990’s identified key predators and how to manage them specifically for kokako and that information is still in use at Waipoua, Mataraua and Puketi.”

“We have the exciting and realistic opportunity to not only protect these kokako populations, but to grow them so that Northland is once again a national stronghold for this taonga of the forest.”