One of New Zealand's most iconic endangered species, the kākāpō, could soon be introduced to Maungatautari if a new fence testing project is successful.

Waipā District Council service delivery committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to award $10,000 from the council's Heritage Fund to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari for the project.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari applied for $16,500 for a project which includes exploring safe electric fence options to prevent kākāpō escaping.

Arguably the world's most famous kākāpō, Sirocco. Photo / Mike Bodie
Arguably the world's most famous kākāpō, Sirocco. Photo / Mike Bodie

The nocturnal, flightless bird this week reached a big milestone, with an official population totalling 200.


For the first time more habitat for the critically endangered birds is needed.

Heritage and museum manager Tony Roxburgh said the study could have a significant impact on the Maungatautari project and the biodiversity of Waipā.

"Kākāpō have the ability to climb the traditional pest proof fencing which would leave them exposed to predators should they decide to climb out," he said.

"This project will look at using an alternative fencing system to prevent that from happening.

"Sanctuary Mountain and their partners will test things like how the kākāpō react to the fencing and whether the birds would need extra technical aid that would prevent them from getting too close to the fence."

The project is being jointly funded by Gallagher Group Limited, Land Care Research, MEIT and Waipā District Council.

Tony said Maungatautari was the ideal spot for kākāpō as there was "a large enough area of land and ample vegetation to support a thriving population".

The space was also largely free of mammalian pests.