New Help Page

Date posted: 24-Nov-2015

We have a new help page on our website where we will occasionally post requests for assistance. ..

Hihi Celebration Event

Date posted: 14-Oct-2015

On Monday 16th November there will be a special celebration event to mark the 20th anniversary o..

New chairperson for the Supporters

Date posted: 24-Sep-2015

At our Annual General Meeting, held on Monday 21st September, a new chairperson and committee we..

New edition of field guide published

Date posted: 07-May-2015

Anyone interested in New Zealand birds will be delighted to hear the latest edition of H..

Tiritiri Concert on YouTube

Date posted: 27-Apr-2015

Those who enjoyed Caitlin Smith and Nigel Gavin's wonderful performance at this year's S..

Ecology Journal marks 25 years of Tiritiri

Date posted: 25-Nov-2013

The latest issue of the New Zealand Journal of Ecology is dedicated entirely to Tiritiri..

New bequests initiative

Date posted: 09-Sep-2013

Watch out for coverage in the national media this week for a new campaign by 'Include a Charity ..

2013 Photo Competition

Date posted: 27-Jan-2013

It is that time of year again, when we are looking for entries to our photographic c..

Film of the Kokako Week Jazz Concert

Date posted: 03-Oct-2012

Many thanks to Pieter Huisman who made this short film of the wonderful Jazz concert hel..


Date posted: 15-Aug-2012

Sadly, Greg the Takahe died on Sunday 12th August. As many Island regulars will know, Greg had b..

North Island Kokako

Scientific name:

 Callaeas wilsoni



Conservation status

 Endemic, At risk - recovering

Mainland status:

 N.I only, mainly northern Urewera


 38cm, 230g


 20+ Years


 October - December


 Mainly foliage and fruit, some invertebrates

First introduced to Tiri:

 3 birds in 1997

Population on Tiri:

 Normally 20-30 birds

Total population:

 Around 2,000 in 2012

Kokako - photographer: Alex MitchellBelonging to the wattlebird family, an ancient group of birds, North Island kōkako have bright blue wattles at the base of the bill. Their plumage is mainly grey with a bluish tinge, they have long black legs, short rounded wings, a long tail, and a black facial mask. The juveniles are have pink wattles which slowly turn to lilac, then blue as they mature. The South Island sub-species, officially regarded as extinct, had orange wattles.

Because their wings are short relative to their body size, kōkako are poor fliers, preferring to move through the forest by bounding from tree to tree on their strong legs. They will fly short distances and often glide from the tree tops down to the lower branches or forest floor, but their wings are too weak for them to fly upwards.

They form life-long pairs and seldom stray from their permanent territories, preferring tall, mixed podocarp and hardwood forests with a high diversity of plant species. They feed on leaves all year round at all levels of the forest; they also eat fruits when available and invertebrates during summer and autumn, especially when feeding chicks. During the weeks prior to nesting, the male frequently feeds the female (see photo below).

The kōkako is notable for its haunting, mournful organ- or flute-like calls, often heard shortly after dawn. Other calls include a range of soft clucks and cat-like mewing notes.

Three kōkako (2 males and 1 female) were released on Tiritiri Matangi in 1997, followed by four more male birds in 1998. Of the original three birds, one male was predated immediately after release, but the remaining pair has lived in Wattle Valley for many years and raised over 20 chicks, most of which have been removed from the Island to other areas.

Detailed information about the kōkako on Tiritiri Matangi can be found here.

Click here to view a film (48 Mb) of Te Rae and Chatters feeding their chicks on their nest near the Kawerau Track in December 2013.

Click here to view a short film (90 Mb) of a pair of kōkako feeding their chicks in the Hunuas. 
And you can learn more about the North Island kōkako at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Alex Mitchell © (top right) and Kay Milton © (bottom left)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking