Image: Shellie Evans | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


As Kiwis make plans to hook up the boat trailer for summer, the Department of Conservation is asking boaties are to spare a thought for one of New Zealand’s threatened bird species: the New Zealand dabchick or weweia.

Date:  23 December 2021

These threatened freshwater birds often nest at this time of year, with their nests being extremely susceptible to boat wash.

Often mistaken for scaup, there are thought to be less than 2000 dabchick in New Zealand, with Rotorua lakes being one of the few places they are found.

DOC Biodiversity Senior Ranger Bex Newland says that dabchick spend their whole life on water and their biggest threats include human disturbance as well as predation by rats and stoats.

“Weweia are more slender than scaup and have a longer neck,” says Bex Newland. “Nests are usually within 1 m of land and contain 2–3 small bluish eggs and are tethered to submerged vegetation. Rises in water level, including those caused by boat wash, can easily swamp the nest and destroy eggs if people aren’t careful.”

Boaties can help protect this taonga species by keeping rubbish and pollution out of waterways, trapping pests on your property, preventing pets and domestic animals from disturbing wildlife.

“Keep below 5 knots when within 200 m of the shore to prevent boat wash, and don’t undertake construction or maintenance on boat sheds or jetties during August to February when dabchicks are nesting,” says Bex Newland.

“We ask that anybody using the lakes recreationally are mindful of these special birds.”


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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