The population of one of New Zealand's highly threatened bird species in the Bay of Plenty is growing, according to a recent survey.

A recent survey in the Pongakawa Ecological Area indicated a robust and healthy population of North Island kōkako, one of New Zealand's highly threatened birds.

During the survey, 157 pairs and 13 single birds were recorded over 1200ha on areas managed by Timberlands, lands owned by Ngāti Makino and public conservation land administered by the Department of Conservation.

This was more than double the 2013 survey which indicated 50 North Island kōkako pairs however the 2013 survey was on an area half the size.


The latest survey was completed eight months after a large scale pest control operation led by Rotoehu Ecological Trust which has actively managed pest control in the area since 2013.

The types of pest control included a mixture of pest controls including ground-based trapping and pesticides, but 1080 was not used.

Rotoehu Ecological Trust chairwoman Sarah Orton said the survey team reported most of the kōkako pairs had fledglings with them which indicated healthy and robust population growth.

Titipounamu (rifleman), pōpokatea (whitehead) and toutouwai (robins) were also spotted in abundance during the survey.

DoC supervisor Carrie Abbott said the results were fantastic and a testament to the time and effort the ecological trust dedicated to pest control.

Safe head of campaigns Marianne Macdonald said while animal population control was complex, Safe urged the Government to prioritise research into more humane alternatives.

"No animal deserves a slow and painful death. So let's look for other options," she said.