Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

2018 Photo Comp opens for entries

Date posted: 27-Nov-2017

The 2018 Photo Competition is now open for entries. Click here (/2018-photo-competition-tiritiri-mat..

New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Red-crowned Parakeet

Scientific name:

 Cyanoramphus novaezeleandiae novaezeleandiae

Maori Name:




Conservation status

 At risk - relict

Mainland status:

 Rare on both North and South Island


 28cm, 80g (males), 25cm, 70g (females)


 Not known


 October – December (relaying to March)


 Mainly plant material, small invertebrates

First introduced to Tiri:

 1974 (35 in 1974, 22 in 1975, 27 in 1976)

Population on Tiri:

 Several hundred

Total population:

 Abundant on island reserves

Kakariki - photographer: Simon FordhamThe Red-crowned parakeet, commonly known by its Maori name kākāriki, is a long tailed bright green parrot with a red crown and forehead and a band of red which extends from the bill through the eye and beyond. It has crimson rump patches and bright blue on its wing coverts and some outer flight feathers.

Kākāriki have a rapid, direct flight, usually above the canopy and often accompanied by a rapid loud chatter: "ki-ki-ki-ki-ki". When feeding they may babble, or else are silent.

Kākāriki are very rare in the North Island, though this wasn't always the case. They were common in the 1880s but introduced predators such as feral cats, stoats and ship rats decimated the population. They are even rarer on the South Island, but are widespread on Stewart Island and many predator-free island reserves, including Tiritiri Matangi.  

Kākāriki eat a wide variety of plant seeds (particularly flax), fruit, berries, buds, shoots and flowers, as well as nectar and small invertebrates. They often feed on the ground rather than in the canopy, making them susceptible to mammalian predators.

Kakariki - photographer: Peter CrawRed-crowned parakeets make their nests in holes in branches and trunks, or at ground level, usually amongst dense vegetation. Occasionally they interbreed with the yellow-crowned parakeet, another sub-species even rarer than the red-crowned parakeet. They live in pairs, male and female staying together all year round, and often joining other pairs and their young. In the autumn and winter they form small flocks. They are non-migratory, though they are capable of flying long distances, usually when searching for food or fresh water. Kākāriki from Tiritiri Matangi have flown to the Shakespear Regional Park on the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, a distance of about four kilometres, and have established a breeding population there. 

The red-crowned parakeet was the first bird to be introduced to Tiritiri Matangi. Soon after the Island became part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park in 1971, permits were obtained for the Wildlife Service to release kākāriki on Cuvier Island and Tiritiri Matangi. About thirty captive-reared birds were flown from Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre to Ardmore Airport in South Auckland. The Cuvier-bound birds were then driven to Whitianga, but the boat that was to have taken them to Cuvier was not there, so they were driven back to Auckland. Unfortunately some birds died on this hot and stressful journey. After a few days in an aviary to recover, the survivors were released on Tiritiri Matangi. This was in January 1974, 10 years before planting started. It was a small article in the NZ Herald reporting the kākāriki release that prompted John Craig to investigate the Island as a place to do research. More kākāriki were released in 1975 and ’76.

Although there is now a thriving population on the Island, some of them lose a lot of feathers at certain times of the year, especially in the spring. There has been speculation about whether this is caused by mites, by a condition called 'beak and feather disease', or simply by a pre-breeding moult. During 2011-13, this problem has been investigated as part of a PhD project.

Learn more about the red-crowned parakeet at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by:  Peter Craw © (left) and Simon Fordham © (right)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking. Rimmer, A. 2004, Tiritiri Matangi: A model of conservation, Random House.