Four out of every five native birds in New Zealand is at risk of extinction, a damning new report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says.

One third of New Zealand's 168 native bird species were "in serious trouble" and threatened with extinction. An additional 48 per cent of all species were "in some trouble", while just one in five native species were not threatened by extinction.

Hawke's Bay's Cape Sanctuary - the country's largest privately-owned and funded wildlife restoration project - says these startling figures unfortunately do not come as a surprise.

The report, titled Taonga of a island nation: saving New Zealand's birds, made seven recommendations to the Government.


Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan White said the situation was "desperate".

"One in every three [species] is not far off from following the moa and many others into
extinction. The situation is desperate.

"Our native birds need three things - safety from predators, suitable habitat, and
enough genetic diversity for long-term resilience. Undoubtedly, the first - safety from predators - is the most urgent."

Cape Sanctuary manager Beau Fahnle said the Predator Free 2050 goal set in place by the Government last year, and highlighted by the report, was highly ambitious but necessary for the survival of native bird species.

He said private enterprises such as Cape Sanctuary would play a large part in achieving that goal.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen in places like this," Mr Fahnle said.

The 2500-hectare area has a nearly predator-proof 10km fence coast-to-coast across the peninsula.

Mr Fahnle said a number of forest and sea birds were thriving there, as well as the takahe and North Island brown kiwi. The takahe was in "serious trouble"; the kiwi in "some trouble", the report said.


"Places like Cape Sanctuary can facilitate that ... The whole idea is this is a typical use landscape - it's New Zealand, it's not a high value conservaton area in the middle of nowhere. It's a working farm, a golf course, a tourism operation, farm forestry and high value conservation as well."

Mr Fahnle said rats were the most dangerous predator for birds, followed by mustelids, including stoats.

Environmental organisation Forest & Bird said the report showed New Zealand's environment was "in crisis", and said governmental organisations weren't funded or directed to protect our country.

Chief executive Kevin Hague said agencies including the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment were "frequently guilty of enabling the demise of our native birds".

"If the Government is serious about saving our native birds from extinction, they must properly fund the Department of Conservation and take a genuine whole of government approach, where all government agencies prioritise the conservation of our unique native species," said Mr Hague.

"Nearly half the birds the PCE says are 'in serious trouble' are seabirds, yet MPI does little to prevent 15,000 birds dying every year in commercial fishing nets and on long-lines."

The report highlighted the importance of the controversial poison 1080, calling its use "essential for the foreseeable future". The report also asked for greater investment in conservation, and called for a compulsory Nature border levy for overseas visitors.