Adult black stilt/kakī
Image: Kiersten McKinley | DOC


New Zealand Post have issued a series of stamps that focus on five native birds that have been brought back from the brink of extinction.

DOC's Hugh Robertson talks about the series and why each of these birds were chosen.


Date:  02 August 2017

Stamps in the series

The following five native birds have been featured in the stamp series. 

These birds were all brought back from the brink of extinction using five key conservation tools:

  • island eradications
  • intensive nest protection
  • translocations
  • head-starting programmes
  • fenced sanctuaries (or community group pest control).

More information about the stamps can be found on the New Zealand Post website.

Campbell Island teal

This flightless duck was believed to be extinct due to predation by rats and cats on Campbell Island. In 1975, less than 30 birds were discovered on nearby Dent Island. Of these, 11 were caught to establish a captive-breeding programme at Pukaha/Mt Bruce. After years of failure, one of the three females finally bred, and the captive population then flourished. In 2000, 24 captive-bred birds were released on Codfish Island pending the eradication of rats from Campbell Island which was accomplished in 2001. Between 2004 and 2006 150 teal were returned home. The total population is now over 250 birds.

More about Campbell Island teal.

Black stilt/kakī

A combination of predation by feral cats and other carnivorous mammals, loss of breeding habitat, and cross breeding with pied stilts, reduced the population of pure black stilts to a few dozen birds in the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury. Control of predators and weeds in breeding areas, and collection of eggs for artificial incubation at special facilities near Twizel has seen the population rise to about 100 birds, despite occasional setbacks from severe winter weather.

More about black stilt/kakī.

North Island kākā

Kākā nest in tree cavities in old forests, and while this provides good protection from the elements, it makes them vulnerable to mammalian predators, especially stoats. In many mainland populations the sex ratio of this parrot is skewed in favour of males because many females are killed on the nest. Possums and rats compete for fruit but pest control and eradication from islands, and the creation of fenced sanctuaries, has seen rapid growth from about 3,000 birds to over 5,000, and has balanced the sex ratio.

More about kākā.

South Island saddleback/tīeke

In the 1800s and early 1900s, introduced predators exterminated this ancient wattlebird from the South and Stewart Islands, leaving them living on just three islands off the southwestern corner of Stewart Island. In 1963, ship rats reached these remaining islands and emergency action was taken in 1964 to transfer 36 birds to two nearby rat-free islands. They flourished and have since been shifted to many other islands that were naturally free of rats, or that had been successfully cleared of rats, and now number over 2,000 birds.

More about saddleback/tīeke.

Northern New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu

This wader breeds mainly on the sandy coasts of the northern North Island. Coastal breeding brings problems such as nests being destroyed by off-road vehicles and accidental disturbance by beachgoers. Predation by cats, stoats, ferrets and other carnivorous mammals is an ongoing serious problem. Protection of favoured breeding sites with temporary fences and pest control has led to strong population increases in eastern Northland, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty bringing the overall population up from 1,350 in the 1990s to more than 2,000 today.

More about New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu.

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