Australasian bittern/matuku
Image: Imogen Warren ©


We are running exciting competitions to name and colour the backpacking Australasian bittern/matuku.

Date:  02 February 2018

Name our backpacking bittern competition

Look at our Australian bittern/matuku (see the image above or view larger (JPG, 270K)) and think of a name.

To enter:

Open to all ages.

Entries close 3 pm, Monday 19 February 2018. 

The top three names will be selected by a local panel and announced on Facebook.

Voting on the top three names will open on 26 February and close 3pm on 7 March 2018.

All winners will be announced on Facebook on 10 March 2018. 


First place

  • a pair of Permafocus binoculars
  • a prize pack of Whangamarino Wetland goodies
  • PLUS...a day out exploring the Whangamarino Wetland with our DOC Rangers. Bring a friend and discover the secrets of the Wetland on a guided walk and boat or kayaking adventure.

Runners up

  • a prize pack of Whangamarino Wetland goodies

What's in the prize pack?

  • Whangamarino hoody/singlet/longsleeve
  • magnet
  • pen
  • chocolate kokopu

Colouring competition

Download and print the of picture of Australasian bittern (PDF, 705K) and colour it in.

Once completed, drop your entry to Te Kauwhata Library.

Entries close 3 pm, Wednesday 7 March 2018.

All winners announced 10 March on Facebook

Age categories for colouring competition

  • 5 and under
  • 6-9 years
  • 10-13 years


First place in each division

  • a prize pack of Whangamarino Wetland goodies

What's in the prize pack?

  • Whangamarino hoody/singlet/longsleeve
  • magnet
  • pen
  • chocolate kokopu

About Whangamarino bittern

Whangamarino Wetland, on our doorstep, is a treasure trove of rare and endangered species, like the Australasian bittern/matuku. This iconic wetland bird is rarely seen as it's good at blending into its surroundings and is now so rare, it is classed as Nationally Critical. 

No-one knows for sure why these large heron-sized birds decide to take to the air on their powerful wings from time to time and move to other areas. But thanks to a local male bittern, the first to be caught in Whangamarino since the 1980s, we might be about to find out.

DOC Whangamarino Ranger, Kaitlin Morrison and ecologist contractor, Emma Williams, followed his loud booms and discovered a path he had been using through the wetland. There they set up a cage trap with a mirror in the back, luring him with recordings of another male bittern's booms. Tricked into seeing his own reflection as an intruder into his territory, he was easily trapped.

His captors carefully attached a tiny transmitter backpack and let him go. Now at last, Kaitlin has a way of finding out what bittern like to do. She can pick up his whereabouts when she is in the area by using a radio receiver and an aerial. From the GPS in his backpack she gets updates on his location. Look out for future Chatter articles to find out where he goes.

World Wetland Day on 2 February is a great day to celebrate this intriguing bird, and his amazing home, the Whangamarino Wetland. 

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