Kākāpō were widespread on mainland New Zealand before people arrived but numbers were decimated by hunting, habitat loss and depredation by introduced predators until the 1990’s when only around 50 birds remained. The Kākāpō Recovery Team brings together the expertise of scientists, rangers, volunteers, and donors to protect this critically endangered species via crucial intensive management and has gradually recovered the species to around 200 birds by 2022. 

There are only two islands in NZ that are beyond the swimming distance of rats and stoats – Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) and Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier Island).  Because these are the only places where kākāpō can survive without ongoing predator control, establishing kākāpō on both islands is vital to the long-term survival of this critically endangered species. 


Hauturu-o-Toi  is a nature reserve 80km north-east of Tamaki Makaurau Auckland. The first kākāpō were transferred there in 1982 after a cat eradication but removed in 1999 so that Pacific rats could be eradicated. 

Nine kākāpō were then transferred back to Hauturu in 2012 to test the islands suitability as a long-term site for a non-managed population.  

It remains unconfirmed if kākāpō can raise chicks on Hauturu without supplemental food and it will take many years for enough data to be collected on breeding success to answer this question.  

Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund grants go towards the annual cost of baseline monitoring on Hauturu, including annual radio-transmitter replacement and aerial survey’s using ‘Sky Ranger’ technology, which enables health status, location, and breeding data to be collected using automated transmitter technology. 


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