Early Polynesian settlers hunted kākāpō for its plumage and meat. From the 1840s, European settlers not only hunted the bird, they cleared the land and destroyed its habitat. Most devastating to kākāpō survival was the introduction of predators such as rats, cats and stoats.
By the 1970s only 18 kākāpō were left – all in Fiordland and all males. The species seemed doomed. But in 1977, a population of male and female kākāpō was discovered on Stewart Island, giving new hope for the survival of this precious bird.
All remaining kākāpō are now managed by DOC on three offshore islands: Codfish Island/Whenua Hou near Stewart Island, Anchor Island in Fiordland, and Te Hauturu-o-Toi / Little Barrier Island near Auckland.
Kākāpō Recovery Team
DOC has a Kākāpō Recovery Team advised by a Kākāpō Recovery Group.
Our staff that live on the offshore islands ensure the birds are safe, healthy and well-fed. The work of our other team members involve specialist skills including research, bird rearing, logistics, and advocacy.
The aim of Kākāpō Recovery is to establish at least two managed populations of kākāpō and another self-sustaining population, each with at least 50 breeding aged females, in a protected habitat.
Meridian Energy Partnership
Since June 2016, Meridian Energy has been the National Partner of the Kākāpō Recovery Programme. This partnership contributes to the future growth of the kākāpō population, by helping DOC to fund research and pioneer conservation techniques relating to genetics, nutrition, disease management and finding new sites.
You can help
Visit the Kākāpō Recovery website to get involved through donations and volunteering.
Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife.
Help protect our native birds
When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
- Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
- Check your gear for mice and rats when visiting pest-free islands.
- Leave nesting birds alone.
- Use available access ways to get to the beach.
- Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
- Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
- Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
- Avoid visiting riverbeds early September to late January when river birds breed.
Other ways to help
- Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
- Volunteer with DOC or other groups to control predators and restore bird habitats.
- Set traps for stoats or rats on your property. Get more information from your local DOC office.
- Put a bell on your cat's collar, feed it well, and keep it indoors at dusk/dawn and at night.