Computer generated image (CGI) of Gulliver the kākāpō on a saxophone

Image: Meridian | ©


The 2019 breeding season is in full swing for kākāpō, and this summer is bound to be the “saxiest” one yet.

Date:  01 February 2019

Sinbad the kakapo.
Sinbad gets a little too enthusiastic with a visitor
Image: Andrew Digby | DOC

Everyone is doing their bit to make the most of it. In fact, even the birds started breeding earlier than expected with the first kākāpō chicks of the season already hatched!

2019 is set to be a bumper year for kākāpō breeding with almost every breeding-age female kākāpō expected to lay eggs. With the population currently sitting at 147, we're doing everything we can to make sure this breeding season is a success. This includes innovations like assisted breeding programmes, smart eggs and better genetic management.

Meridian has been DOC’s National Partner for Kākāpō Recovery since 2016, supporting science, technology and innovation. As a 100% renewable energy generator, Meridian is committed to helping protect our natural environment and the precious species that inhabit it.

This year they’re really going the extra mile. To help the birds get in the mood, Meridian Energy hatched a plan to recruit a saxophonist to play some "saxy" music to encourage kākāpō through the breeding season.

What's the plan?

The hunt for a saxy saxophonist is a joint campaign between DOC and Meridian Energy to raise awareness of kākāpō during the breeding season.

It’s well known that music gets people in the mood for love and that’s why Meridian put the call out for a saxophonist to provide us with some "saxy" music that’ll get the kākāpō in the mood.

Piers Dashfield, 23, responded to the call from Meridian Energy to serenade the birds in a bid to bolster breeding. 

Piers hit the studio to record this season’s number one kākāpō love song, which will be released on Valentine’s Day. It’s also available to download on the Meridian Energy website.

Of course, we're aware that the effectiveness of saxophone music on kākāpō is not a traditional conservation technique! It’s all a bit of fun, with our goal being to raise awareness for the birds and get the Kiwi public behind Kākāpō Recovery.

Follow the story on the Meridian website.

Waikawa on nest.
Waikawa on nest
Image: Brodie Philp | DOC

New innovations for Kākāpō Recovery to boost success

Meridian were already doing heaps of great work as a National Partner for Kākāpō Recovery – for example their support helps fund research and initiatives relating to genetics, nutrition, disease and new kākāpō sites. They also help raise awareness of the plight of the kākāpō and their staff lend their expertise to get island power systems running smoothly – an essential asset when you’ve got some chicks whose lives depend on incubating machines.

Smart egg
Smart Egg
Image: Stu Cockburn | DOC

This year they’re also providing additional funding for the season’s “assisted breeding” (artificial insemination) programme and also the kākāpō team “Smart Egg” project. Smart Eggs are an innovative upgrade from dummy eggs used in the past to keep mums sitting on the nest when eggs are removed for artificial incubation. The Smart Egg technology makes sounds like a real egg about to hatch, to better prepare the mother bird for when their chick is returned to the nest.

Kākāpō management continues to evolve. We’re moving away from previous methods of manual nest minding and using the best technology available to ensure the best outcomes for a growing kākāpō population.

Both projects are experimental in nature, but both also have the potential to dramatically increase the success of kākāpō breeding.

You can follow the latest on the breeding season (including regular mating and egg updates) through the Kākāpō Recovery Facebook Page or sign up to the Kākāpō Recovery e-newsletter.

Kakapo chick.
Kākāpō chick
Image: Andrew Digby | DOC

Kakapo recovery logo

DOC and Meridian logos

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