Parrots & Parakeets

Kakapo, Kaka
5 parakeets


Takahe  Kiwi
Kakapo  Penguin
Moa  Wren
Huia Wattlebirds

Gigantism in insects
Giant worms
Living fossils
Leiopelma frogs
Land snails

Big trees

Fears for future of rescued parrots
"The emergency evacuation of parrot chicks from a South Island forest has critics asking whether the birds will become permanent refugees from the mainland ..."
New Zealand Herald
29 April 2004

Egg find brings hope for rescue of the kakariki
"Seven eggs from the nest of a South Island parakeet have given conservation staff something to smile about ..."
New Zealand Herald
25 December 2003

Rare parakeet races up the endangered list
"New Zealand's conservation agency is facing its most serious extinction in two decades ..."
New Zealand Herald
8 September 2003

Broody double-up for rare parakeet
"Yet more good news on the breeding front for native birds, this time for another endangered parrot, the orange-fronted parakeet ..."
New Zealand Herald
10 April 2002

Parakeets get own name but the family's future looks dim
"The Department of Conservation has announced that a new species of native bird has been identified ..."
New Zealand Herald
15 August 2001


In the three years since it was named a new species, the orange-fronted parakeet (Cyanoramphus malberbi) population has plummeted 75 percent from 500 birds to 100 to 200.  It has raced to the top of New Zealand's endangered species list, and is now in the company of kakapo, black robin and takahe.

It was once widely distributed throughout a region that represents the greater New Zealand continental landmass of 135 million years ago, that spread from New Caledonia to the subantarctic islands, and from the Lord Howe Rise to the Chatham Rise.

Red-crowned parakeet were once widespread throughout the mainland and offshore islands of New Zealand, including the subtropical Kermadec Islands, Chatham Island, and the subantarctic Auckland Islands and Antipodes Island.  It was also in the Australian territory of Macquarie and Lord Howe Islands where it is extinct, and Norfolk Island; and in New Caledonia.

In the early 1900s, settlers took buff weka from their original habitat to the Chatham Islands, where they now thrive so well they have to be controlled.

Weka have been an ecological management dilemma because of their predatory conflict with other native animals.  Some weka have been a problem within the constrained boundaries of offshore islands, as they eat the eggs and chicks of other threatened birds.  Normally the weka has been removed to eliminate the conflict.

The Department of Conservation killed 400 buff weka in the Chatham Islands in 2003, to protect the critically endangered taiko which is one of the world's rarest seabirds, and the Chatham Islands oystercatcher.

Weka were traditionally an easily obtained food source for Maori and early 19th century European settlers.  The decline of weka on the mainland has prevented Maori from continuing 'mahinga kai' harvesting, but some iwi are today expressing the need for conservation to allow the tradition to return.  The Chatham Islands is the only place where weka are presently hunted legally.

DoC reports that little is known about the density of the various populations.  According to DoC, the causes of decline, and the density and stability of populations are complexly linked to the ecosystems of each locality.  There are large fluctuations in populations, possibly due to changes in food supply and adverse weather.

Red-crowned parakeet

The smartest, most mischievous bird ...

Like the kiwi, wekas are good swimmers even though they do not have webbed feet.  It is seen drying off after a cool dip in a Fiordland stream.

The decline of weka remains a mystery as they are an adaptable, aggressive, inquisitive and resourceful bird.  They are known to be a bit of a nuisance in rural vegetable gardens, where their favorite meal includes tomatoes and hens eggs.  Weka will also eat food scraps, rodents, and lizards.  In their indigenous habitat fallen fruit, invertebrates, snails and the eggs and chicks of ground nesting birds are part of their diet.

International Threatened & Endangered Listing
2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Weka Gallirallus australis  Vulnerable

Photo Credit
Left, second from top: Kakapo
Left, fourth from top: Tusked weta
Crown Copyright, Department of Conservation
Top right: Weka, Virtual New Zealand
Illustration Credit
Left, third from top: John Gerrard Keulemans 1842-1912, Huia (male and female) Heteralocha acutirostris 1888.
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Copyright © 2005 TerraNature Trust. All rights reserved.

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