For years takahē were thought to be extinct but were rediscovered in 1948, hidden deep in Fiordland's Murchison Mountains. Since then the Department of Conservation's (DOC) Takahē Recovery Programme has worked really hard to bring their population back from the brink, to just over 400 birds today. 

We're lucky to have a pair of takahē at Auckland Zoo and just like their feathered friends the kākāpō, every individual is known by name. Female Whito takes her name from the te reo word for little and male Bligh is named after Bligh Sound in Fiordland, where the last stronghold of takahē were found. 

Bligh and Whito share their High Country habitat with other native New Zealand species; the white-water-loving whio (blue duck), kākāriki karaka (orange-fronted parakeet) and korimako (bellbird) in our Aotearoa sanctuary Te Wao Nui.

Our bird keepers also provide health checks for wild takahē each year on behalf of DOC. This work spans six sites in the North Island and includes taking blood, checking weights, vaccinating, and attaching leg bands and transmitters so these wide-ranging birds can be located and identified when we arrive to do follow up checks. These health checks are so important in ensuring the wellbeing of takahē as with such a small population every bird is precious. 

Many kiwis haven’t had the opportunity to see one of these beautiful birds up close and because of this takahē can often be confused with their more common cousins the pūkeko. The major differences between them are their size, the colouring of their plumage and the shape of their bodies. Much larger and more colourful, adult takahē are about the size of a large hen and can weigh over 3kg. 

Protecting takahē and all of Aotearoa’s wildlife calls for active and widespread predator eradication. In the case of takahē, stoats are the most significant threat. These introduced predators kill many of our native birds and reptiles before they reach breeding age - making it impossible for the species to recover without conservation intervention. 

Video

Takahē pair make Rotoroa Island home

Kuīni, a feisty young takahē and mate Anzac started a new life on Rotoroa Island. Follow their journey to the island in this episode of Zoo Tales.