Image: Shellie Evans | ©


The dabchick, or weweia is a specialised waterbird endemic to New Zealand. They are currently extinct from the South Island but they can be found around the Central North Island in Taupo and Rotorua.

New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation status:
Nationally Increasing
Found in: Central North Island in Taupo and Rotorua
Threats: Predation, declining water quality, loss of natural habitat and increased disturbance

Species information: Dabchick/Weweia on NZ Birds Online

Did you know?

Dabchicks dive for their food up to 4 m deep. They can hold their breath for around 40 seconds.

Dabchick conservation

They used to be present in the lakes of the lower South Island but underwent a rapid decline there (for unknown reasons) in the 19th century. 

Today, the largest populations are concentrated around the Central North Island in Taupo and Rotorua.

Usually nests are anchored to emergent aquatic vegetation like raupö or sedges, or tree branches that trail into the water. Because the nest is attached to something it doesn’t have much bouyancy, so dabchick nests are very easily swamped by even a small rise in water levels – including boat wash.

Eggs are also vulnerable to predation by Norway rats that like to live near water and are good swimmers.

DOC, alongside volunteers, currently complete bi-annual surveys of dabchick populations with the aim of identifying varying populations.

You can help

Volunteer on dabchick surveys. These run twice a year in different Rotorua lakes. Contact the Rotorua DOC office.

The dabchick breeding season runs from September to December. Avoid getting too close during this time.

Emergency hotline

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

On your property

  • Trap predators on your property.
  • Be a responsible cat owner.

In your community

  • Find and volunteer with your local community group 
  • Trap predators in your community
  • Get kids or schools involved

See Predator Free 2050 Trust - get involved for information.

Visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes

  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines in the water.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Do not drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
  • Check for pests if visiting pest-free islands.

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.
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Learn about the Lead the Way programme which encourages dog owners to become wildlife wise and know how to act to protect coastal wildlife.

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

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