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Kokako Lostkokako

 

Kokako Log 1993 by Sid Marsh

Waihi Leader

JANUARY

The northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula is dominated by Te Moehau, an imposing 892 metre high mountain that is often capped by thick cloud. From its highest point down to sea level Te Moehau is ringed by concentric layers of vegetation: i/ tussocks and sub-alpine scrub then ii/ cloud forest comprising kaikawaka, Hall's totara, rimu, miro, tawari, towai, tawheowheo and toatoa. iii/. Sub-tropical rain forest with kauri, northern rata, kotukutuku, rewarewa, kohekohe, rimu and tawa dominate the next band while iv/ the outer ring is largely manuka forest (acting as a wind buffer and nursery) and farmland. v/ Pohutukawa, taraire and puriri groves on the coastal fringes complete the picture.

Except for the summit which is Maori land, all the vegetation types mentioned are encompassed in what is known as the Moehau Block - an ecological reserve of over 3,600 hectares - under the stewardship of the Department of Conservation. The Moehau Block is home to a diverse range of introduced and native wildlife: from kokopu and koura in the streams, to stag beetles, native snails, and the birds commonly found in our NZ rain forests, the likes of tui, bellbird, pigeon etc. Nanenane (goat), poaka (pig), tori (wild cat), stoat and rat are there too; and of course the ubiquitous possum - the animal that is steadily nibbling our rain forests, including the Moehau block, to death. Hochstetter's frog can be easily found, as well as its rarer 'cloud forest' cousin Archey's frog. There are tree geckos, too, if one is clued up enough to find them (I'm not). Some of New Zealand's most unusual birds are found on the Moehau: brown kiwi, koekoea, kakariki, the bush falcon, as well as good numbers of kaka. In December last year DOC goathunter, Dion Patterson, was on a culling operation in the headwaters of the Ongohi Stream when he came across twenty of these gregarious and noisy birds - eleven of them in a tree with at least nine others circulating about. This was an outstanding sighting, as kaka are becoming rare on the New Zealand mainland. The Moehau is a kaka stronghold.

With its mythology, pa sites, plant and animal life Te Moehau is a cultural and ecological treasure trove. The mountain may even have kokako:

In January 1991 in the headwaters of the Pahi Stream DOC possum trapper Roger Madoc heard a 'whine with bonging'. Roger searched for the source of the unusual bird song and finally saw the songster silhouetted in the upper branches of a dead tree, about 50 metres away The hunter used his rifle scope to study the bird but the kokako soon flew off downslope to the west. Roger has seen kokako before and he is 100% sure that what he saw was a kokako. I will be following up this contact and other unconfirmed reports of kokako on the Moehau through January and February of this year.