Only 252 Kākāpō survive today

Kākāpō are part of our whakapapa (genealogy).

If kākāpō are threatened, then so are we.

Hero image – Jake Osborne


Nocturnal, ground-dwelling, soft feathered, friendly, long-lived, critically endangered

Retrieving a species from the brink of extinction is intensive and expensive. Help by making a financial contribution. All koha gifts will be given to the Kākāpo Recovery Programme.

Make a koha gift

Just check the box in the IIRC conference registration portal.

Not going to conference?

Your koha gift is still welcome!

About Kumi

In 2021, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga contributed to the Kākāpō Recovery programme by adopting Kumi. Our support helps to keep kākāpō healthy and well fed, and to update their location transmitters. With your help we are looking to increase our support and grow wellness for ourselves, kākāpo and our futures.

Ko Sass ka noho ia Margaret-Maree, nā rāua ko Kumi. Parented by Sass and Margaret-Maree, Kumi hatched on Whenua Hou Island, 19 March 2005. Well named, Kumi has indeed grown into a huge fabulous specimen.

Kumi has always been a big boy. As a chick he was injured by another kākāpō at just five weeks old, and while receiving veterinary treatment earned the nickname ‘Pukunui’ (big belly) due to his size and appetite. In 2019 he was the largest kākāpō on Anchor [Pukenui], topping the scales at 4kg! (Kākāpō Recovery Programme, 2021).

Kumi’s size is no mistake. Male kākāpō have elaborate mating rituals. They create pokorua – large bowl shaped hollows in the earth that help to amplify their loud low frequency ‘booming’ mating calls made by inflating their chest cavity. When primed for mating male kākāpō become almost spherical in shape because of their fat reserves and ‘boom sack’.

Given that kākāpō can live up to 100 years old, Kumi is still very much an adolescent. Kumi is an excellent boomer, makes an immaculate bowl and has actively contributed to growing the next generation of kākāpō.

Listen to the booming sound a male kākāpō makes to attract a mate. 


Photo – Maddy Whittaker


[Tāne] ing.

  • He manu nui tonu ki te wao, he kōwhai kākāriki ngā huruhuru, he kiwikiwi, he pango ngā tāingoingo, he kiwikiwi anā te kanohi me te korokoro, he ngutu parehe, he manu hīkoi, he manu haere pō. Strigops habroptilus [kākātarapō, tarapō, tarepō, tātarapō]

Nā Pātaka Kupu >>

Kākāpo feathers

Kākāpō feathers are highly prized by Māori especially in cloak making. A fine exemplar can be found in the Perth Museum, Scotland. In 2021, when this kahu kākāpō was moved from Scotland to London to the British Museum for conservation, the joy, aroha and rituals expressed and performed by Ngāti Rānana aptly encapsulated the regard and mana that Māori attribute to kākāpō and their gifts to us. The cloak in the Perth museum is a fine and extremely rare example. See an image here.


About Kākāpō

Being nocturnal, the kākāpō or night parrot is also known as the owl parrot because of their owl like features. They have yellow-green and remarkably soft plumage as their feathers are not used in flight. They are reportedly the most heaviest and long-lived of the parrot family. As ground-dwellers, they do not fly, but do have a robust physique necessary for navigating rugged terrain. Mating occurs naturally only in seasons of heavy fruiting of podocarp trees particularly rimu. Kākāpō are on the brink of extinction. In the 1970’s only 18 kākāpō were known to exist. Today, the total known adult population is 197. All are named and tagged and reside on small predator-free southern coastal islands.

We have much to do to support this tipuna manu, our ancestral bird.

From kahu kākāpo to kākāpō architecture by Lonnie Hutchinson. Click the image to read more.

Kākāpō Recovery Programme

The Kākāpō Recovery Programme is run by Aotearoa New Zealand’s Department of Conservation in collaboration with partners, supporters, Ngāi Tahu, and volunteers from around the world. The programme is intensive and involves the constant monitoring of the Kākāpō populations in predator free locations that include: Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), Pukenui (Anchor Island), and Te Kākahu o Tamatea (Chalky Island). Staff work year round to make sure that manu are safe, healthy and well fed. Ensuring predator free habitats is a continuous and vital challenge.

Learn more

Visit the Kākāpō Recovery Programme home page

Learn about the effort, technology and relationships required to deliver a premiere back from the brink recovery programme.

Listen to the Kākāpō Files podcast series

Listen to the Kākāpō Files – an audio documentary on kākāpo recovery journeys

Read the science

Clout, M., & Merton, D. (1998). Saving the Kakapo: The conservation of the world’s most peculiar parrot. Bird Conservation International, 8(3), 281-296.

Dussex, N., Van Der Valk, T., Morales, H. E., Wheat, C. W., Díez-del-Molino, D., Von Seth, J., … & Dalén, L. (2021). Population genomics of the critically endangered kākāpō. Cell Genomics1(1)

Check out our Google Scholar search on Kākāpō



The Edge of Extinction (1976)


“By 1896 conservationist Richard Henry was so alarmed at how introduced pests had decimated the kākāpō, New Zealand’s largest parrot, that he spent four years relocating 400 birds to Resolution Island. Then he discovered ferrets had beaten him, and his efforts were in vain. By the mid 1970s the kākāpō population numbered just 12 birds. This documentary follows NZ Wildlife Service leader Don Merton’s rescue team, who after two years scouring Milford Valley locate two male birds and transport them to pest-free Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds. But there’s a problem — only one female remains.” [NZONSCREEN]

To Save the Kākāpō (1997)


“NEW ZEALAND’S KAKAPO is one of the world’s most remarkable birds. It is also one of the most endangered. There are only 50 of these shy, flightless parrots left, and the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s kakapo recovery team is trying to save them from extinction. This is the story of the roller coaster ride of the kakapo’s most successful breeding season in 16 years, on remote Codfish Island. By the end of the season kakapo numbers had reached 54 – kakapo numbers had increased for the first time in a hundred years.”  [New Zealand Geographic, 1997]

Kākāpō Crisis (2019)


“Just as it looked like efforts to shore up our precarious kākāpō population were paying off with a bumper breeding season – disaster struck. Birds in their island homes in the deep south came down with a devastating disease, baffling scientists.” 1 News SUNDAY (4 August 2019)

Brave New Wilderness (2021)

Preview 3mins Full documentary 77mins

Scott Mouat’s award winning documentary is well worth the watch. A full version of the feature length documentary is available online for rent.  Visit

“For half a century scientists, conservationists, veterinarians & pioneers in the field of conservation have battled to save the birds from extinction. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of successes and failures but today the bird’s population are increasing. This growth means that today the recovery teams can turn their attention to an even bigger goal, creating a Brave New Wilderness and returning these species to the landscapes they once called home. ”   []

Tō aroha | what you can do

Retrieving a species from the brink of extinction is intensive and expensive. You can help by making a financial contribution. All koha gifts will be given to the Kākāpo Recovery Programme.

Make a koha gift

Just check the box in the IIRC conference registration portal.

Not going to conference?