Brown teal
Image: Sabine Bernert | ©


The brown teal/pāteke is a small dabbling duck endemic to New Zealand. They are the rarest waterfowl on the mainland.


New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation status: Recovering
Found in: Mainly Great Barrier Island, Northland, Coromandel
Threats: Predation, habitat disturbance, hunting

Species information: Brown teal on NZ Birds Online

Pāteke conservation

Our rarest waterfowl

The species has suffered an ongoing decline in numbers and range since the late nineteenth century. There are currently estimated to be between 2,000 and 2,500 pāteke living in a wild state in New Zealand, making it New Zealand’s rarest waterfowl species on the mainland.

The pāteke were once widespread throughout New Zealand. They are now rare and restricted to Great Barrier Island, coastal valleys of eastern Northland, and several other locations around New Zealand where new populations have been established using translocated birds.

These sites include several predator free islands, Tawharanui (east of Warkworth), the Coromandel Peninsula, Cape Kidnappers and the Clinton-Arthur Valley in Fiordland.

The main populations are at Great Barrier Island (~700), Northland (~600), and Coromandel (at least 400).

Still at risk

Pāteke were listed as "Nationally Endangered" until 2008, when the conservation status was changed to "Recovering". This was due to an increase in the number of pāteke around New Zealand.

Pāteke are still at risk of extinction if the threats to the species are not managed.

These threats include:

  • predation (from introduced mammals as well as native predators such as pukeko)
  • habitat loss (through wetland drainage, forest clearance, and estuary reclamation)
  • hunting
  • road kill
  • dry spring and summer conditions which reduce food abundance
  • competition and hybridisation with mallards.

In combination these factors have a significant negative impact on pāteke.

Approaches to recovery

Read the Pāteke (Anas chlorotis) recovery plan 2005-2010 (PDF, 243K). A new strategy is under development.

There are four main approaches to recover pāteke nationally:

  • predator control
  • habitat restoration
  • captive breeding and release of birds to form new populations at well managed sites
  • raising public awareness to the threats and management opportunities that exist in assisting the species to recover.

The long-term recovery goal is that pāteke are not threatened and are an icon of instream and wetland health, and of conservation-friendly farming practices. This can only be achieved using pāteke produced by the dedication of the captive breeders, and released at new sites well-managed by community groups. 

Work by DOC on pāteke includes:

  • securing pāteke at key sites on Great Barrier Island, Coromandepeninsulal , and Northland using intensive predator control
  • supporting landowners and community groups to establish populations at other sites including Project Janszoon (Abel Tasman National Park), Fiordland, Cape Sanctuary, Tawharanui Regional Park, and Motu Tapu Island
  • habitat restoration, maintaining pasture levels at suitably short lengths and fencing livestock out of nesting areas, providing zones of riparian vegetation along streams and ponds.

Contributors to success

The success of the recovery programme is a direct result of the contributions of:

  • Ngātiwai, as all remaining pateke whakapapa go back to the rohe (territory) of this iwi;
  • captive breeders who produce birds for release at considerable personal cost;
  • the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, who provide facilities for pre-release conditioning and processing (banding, transmitter attachment, disease screening etc) at no charge to DOC; and
  • community groups who do intensive predator control at sites with good habitat, again at no cost to DOC.

You can help

For more information contact:

Nigel Miller, Pāteke Recovery Group Leader

Whangarei Office
Phone:   +64 9 470 3300
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   2 South End Ave
Whangarei 0110
Postal Address:   PO Box 842
Whangarei 0140
Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife.

Help protect our native birds

Visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes

  • Check for pests 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.
  • Do not drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.

With your dog

  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • If you come across wildlife put your dog on a lead and lead it away. 
  • Warn other dog owners at the location.
  • Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs.

Specific ways to keep wildlife safe while with your dog on beaches.

Other ways to help

  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set predator traps on your property.
  • Keep your cat in at night.
  • Learn about the Lead the Way programme which encourages dog owners to become wildlife wise and know how to act to protect coastal wildlife.
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