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Kōkako Reward Draws New Reports of Credible Encounters




Following the launch of the South Island Kōkako Trust’s $5000 reward in January, and the doubling of the reward earlier this month to NZ$10k, around 50 reports of possible encounters have been reported to the Trust from Marlborough to the outer reaches of Fiordland.

Long standing SI kōkako enthusiast, formerly with the Wildlife Service and later with DOC and a founding Trustee, Ron Nilsson, has been following up the reports and is excited about a number of them.

“Many of these encounters are new to us or they corroborate earlier reports in a number of areas. We need back country users to be looking for evidence that this bird is still alive but it’s hard to advise where best to be looking as these very credible reports extend the length of the South Island.”

Although the recent reports span around three decades, Mr Nilsson describes reports as probably or definitely a SI kōkako in several areas:

“The best and most recent reports of encounters were from Fiordland, South Westland, the Grey Valley, the Marlborough Sounds and the Heaphy track. Other reports from the Catlins, Nelson Lakes, Lake Hawea and Otira areas are also strong but not so recent. We have a very promising sound recording from a search just last month but we are still looking for photographic proof.”

Trust Manager, Inger Perkins, advises would be searchers to have a look at the map of possible encounters on the Trust’s website and if they are planning a trip into those areas to get in touch in case more detailed information is available. She explained:

“We still need definitive evidence and with compelling reports from such a wide range of locations from the top to the bottom of the South Island, we are optimistic that proof will be found soon. The outdoors beckons and I’d encourage everyone to be familiar with the sound and appearance of this precious bird and to carry a camera when out in our native forests. Check out our website for all you need to know, take appropriate safety precautions and good luck!”


The Trust will review every report received and then submit any strong evidence received to independent expert analysis. The reward, now NZ$10,000, will be paid once a panel of New Zealand’s expert ornithologists agrees that the bird exists.

A sound recording made in native bush in the Grey Valley last month (24th March 2017) is thought to be that of a SI kōkako, and is attached to the email with background sounds removed.

Maps showing the most likely sites of encounters with the SI kōkako:

a) all reports of encounters

b) reports of the most likely encounters reported since reward launched

Further information about the search and the reward is available on the Trust’s website

To assist searching, the Trust is happy to e-mail regular updates of subsequent sightings on request. (

Further information on the South Island kōkako is available from:

Our grateful appreciation for supporting this work goes to:

Mōhua Investments Ltd and The Morgan Foundation for sponsoring the reward.

The Rata Foundation, Pub Charity, Scotlands Te Kiteroa Trust and The Sargood Bequest for supporting the public campaign with grants.

© Scoop Media

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