Kokako Lostkokako


Kokako Log 1992 by Sid Marsh

Waihi Leader


Over the last 20 years or so the major populations of kokako found in the Coromandel Ranges have centred around three locations: i) Maumaupaki/Tapu Saddle ii) Kauaeranga/Motutapere and iii) Maratoto/ Waitekauri regions. Each of these populations consists of (or consisted of) just a handful of birds holed up in native bush in rugged, semi-mountainous terrain. For the most part these locations have been surveyed and some of the occupying birds even monitored for short periods. There are also several outlying, or satellite, populations of kokako - widely separated in the forests of the central and southern ranges, and thought to consist of only one or two birds.

Not so well documented, and quite separate from the major and satellite populations, are the 'unconfirmed' kokako encounters that have occurred over the years in many unlikely parts of the Coromandel eg. Fantail Bay; Kuaotunu; Whangamata etc.

The Kuaotunu incident is typical. It took place about this time last year: A 14 year old - Ben Penny - was lounging on the family house veranda when a big grey bird flew into a fig tree next to the house (which is surrounded by dense tea tree scrub - in heavily modified areas kokako have been known to feed extensively in his type of vegetation), dropped to the ground, then ran off out-of-sight underneath the fig tree. At its closest the unusual bird was just three metres from Ben, and when he later informed his parents of the sighting, they had him look through a bird identification book ... and a kokako was pointed out.

'... The Wildlife Service, however, regards all sites holding kokako, regardless of population size, as outstanding wildlife habitats because of the birds vulnerable (NOW ENDANGERED) status.

'The potential for the large forest tracts of the Coromandel Peninsula to provide mainland habitat for this vulnerable species is especially important....'

Wildlife Service Fauna Survey Unit Report. 1983.