Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Kakapo breeding for first time in three years

25 February 2005

Kakapo breeding for first time in three years

Kakapo are breeding again after a three year wait, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has established that four female kakapo on Whenua Hou island in Southland have recently laid eggs. Birds named Flossey and Margaret-Marie are each sitting on a nest of three eggs. Another bird, Sue, has laid two eggs, and a fourth bird laid three eggs but these appear to be infertile.

“The last time kakapo bred was in 2002, so this is hugely significant for the Kakapo Recovery Programme particularly after last year’s tragic loss of three birds to disease,” Chris Carter said.

"There are just 83 kakapo left in the world. Although it is early days, on current information DOC's kakapo experts believe we may be on track for three chicks this year, which would at least replace those we lost last year.

"We have to mindful that only 40 per cent of kakapo eggs hatch," Mr Carter said.

"But we are also hopeful that we may see even more mating than we have seen to date. Zephyr, another female, has laid eggs every breeding season but has not mated yet," he said.

There are 18 adult males and 21 adult females on Whenua Hou, of which three males (Sass, Basil and Nog) have mated with seven females (Flossie, Lisa, Sue, Margaret-Marie, Fuchsia, Bella, Cindy).

Kakapo Recovery Team leader Paul Jansen said the breeding season was late this year, a result of late fruiting of rimu and other plants. It was unlikely that females would lay more than one clutch of eggs - the record of 24 chicks in 2002 would be unlikely to be repeated.

Kakapo also bred in 1991, 1997, 1998, and 1999. Between 1980 and 1991, when birds were breeding in the wild on Stewart Island, only three birds were produced.

Three juveniles died of a bacterial infection in July last year after birds were moved between Whenua Hou and Chalky Island/Te Kakahu to increase the breeding chances of kakapo.

The cause of infection was diagnosed as a bacterium found in several other species of bird, but recorded for the first time in kakapo, and the survivors were given antibiotics and vaccinations. The erysipelas bacterium was believed to have been spread to Whenua Hou by seabirds. A permanent screening programme against the disease is in place.

To increase genetic diversity among kakapo, a male (Felix) who has sired 30 per cent of the total population joined the juveniles on the move to Te Kakahu and the last Fiordland bird, Richard Henry, was given the prime breeding spot on Whenua Hou.

Richard Henry was yet to show signs of mating behaviour, however, Mr Jansen said.

DOC is continuing to search for more eggs, and waiting to check the fertility of those they have found already.

The Kakapo Recovery Programme has been sponsored by Comalco since 1990, through the Treasured Species Trust administered by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, the New Zealand Conservation Authority and DOC. For more information, see

Kakapo facts:

Kakapo are ground-dwelling parrots – they can’t fly but they are excellent climbers. They are the world’s biggest parrots, weighing up to 4 kg. In the breeding season, male kakapo swell up like a porcupine fish and emit a low booming sound that can travel up to 5km. Kakapo look like green owls; they hop about like a sparrow, and emit a strong fruity smell. They’re nocturnal birds and solitary, gathering only to breed. Kakapo feed on seeds and fruits. Kakapo are very long lived – Richard Henry is believed to be at least 50 years old.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>


Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election