Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Threatened Whio Population Climbs As DOC And Genesis Renew Recovery Partnership

The number of breeding pairs of New Zealand’s threatened whio (Blue Duck) has almost tripled over the last 10 years, according to a survey released today by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Whio - Credit Herb Christophers

There are now 863 whio breeding pairs living in eight protected sites across the country – 565 more pairs since 2011 and an increase of 190%.

DOC Director General Lou Sanson says the excellent survey results reinforce the decision of DOC and Genesis to renew their Whio Forever partnership.

“With ongoing support from Genesis, DOC’s goal is to take whio from ‘threatened’ status to ‘at-risk’ and grow New Zealand’s national whio population from less than 3,000 to more than 5,000 birds.”

The majority of the funding from Genesis goes directly towards predator control. Over the last decade, more than 5,000 traps have been laid by hundreds of DOC staff and volunteers at key sites across the country. This means almost 1,700 kilometres of river is now protected, providing secure sites where whio can thrive.

Genesis’ funding of Whio Forever has also helped foster and inspire contributions from iwi, communities and interest groups to undertake nationwide predator control to protect and grow whio populations.

Genesis Chief Operating Officer Nigel Clark says the company is proud to be part of a partnership that is achieving such meaningful results.

“It takes a community to raise a whio. The wins we’re celebrating today are driven not only by the partnership between DOC and Genesis, but also through the hard work of many individual trapping enthusiasts, privately run trusts and businesses that hold whio breeding pairs, hatch whio eggs and raise their chicks.”

Lou Sanson says the whio population has continued to climb despite the challenges of a mega-mast (heavy seeding) and severe flooding, along with predator control delays due to bad weather and Covid-19.

“Our growing whio population demonstrates the resilience of the species. But its survival is still very much dependent on our conservation efforts, which demand time, money and hard work. The gains we’ve made over the last decade could easily be lost in a season, so we can’t rest on our laurels. There is still a lot more to do.”

Today, DOC and Genesis renewed their recovery partnership at an event in Turangi, joined by iwi, community leaders and volunteers. A commemorative predator trap was also laid to mark the occasion.

“DOC and Genesis are in this for the long haul. With support from the wider community and Iwi, we can ensure the survival of one of our most precious native birds,” Lou Sanson says.


Background Information on whio

  • The whio is a threatened species of native duck that is only found in New Zealand’s fast flowing waters. Featured on New Zealand’s $10 note and with an estimated nationwide population of less than 3000 birds, whio are rarer than some species of kiwi.
  • Whio are important indicators of ecosystem health – they only exist where there is quality fresh water and an abundance of life.


  • Genesis has a strong historic association with whio through the Tongariro Power Scheme. In 2010 this association grew through the establishment of Whio Awareness Month (March).
  • The Genesis and the Department of Conservation (DOC) partnership through the Whio Forever Project aims to secure the future of whio in the wild and ensure New Zealanders understand and value whio.
  • The support of Genesis and the work of DOC has enabled the Whio Recovery Plan to be implemented.


  • Whio are predated by stoats, ferrets and cats with the largest impact during nesting time when eggs, young and females are vulnerable, and also when females are in moult and can’t fly.
  • Extensive trapping can manage these predators. Work in key whio habitats by DOC and Genesis on the Whio Forever Project has already seen an increase in whio numbers.
  • Whio cannot be moved to predator-free islands like other species because of their reliance on fast-flowing rivers.
  • Pairs occupy approximately 1km of water – so they need a lot of river to sustain a large population. They fiercely defend their territories, which makes it difficult to put them with other ducks in captivity.
  • Whio are susceptible to flood events, which destroy nests, fragment broods and wash away their valued food source.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland