On 8th September 2009 the first pair of a planned total of 30 birds was released into the Ark in the Park. This marks the return of a beautiful creature to a Waitakere forest that has not heard its call for over 60 years.

Only 750 pairs of kokako remain in the North Island. The Department of Conservation’s (DOC) kokako recovery plan aims to have around 1,000 breeding pairs established by 2020.

Kokako are renowned for the clarity and volume of their song which carries far across the forest. In the early morning, a pair may sing a duet for up to half an hour with other kokako joining in to form a "bush choir".

Male and female are similar in colour and size (weighing about 230 grams).

They protect large territories (8 hectares) by singing and chasing away invaders.

They eat leaves, fern-fronds, flowers, fruit and invertebrates.

Kokako are known to live for up to 40 years.

In Maori myth, it was the kokako that gave Maui water as he fought the sun. The kokako filled its wattles with water and brought it to Maui. His thirst quenched, Maui rewarded the kokako by making its legs long and slender, enabling the bird to bound through the forest with ease in search of food

Photograph: Paul Carter

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. Ark in the Park Project Website. All rights reserved.