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National

Wolf-whistling kōkako Kahurangi mourned

Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre at Mount Bruce is mourning the death of its much-loved North Island kōkako, named Kahurangi.

A resident at Pūkaha since 2005, the bird was the only one of her species held in captivity anywhere in the world.

Having been rescued and hand reared as a chick before arriving at Pūkaha, she was too tame to be released into the wild and instead played an important role in conservation efforts.

The Department of Conservation estimates there are just over 2000 pairs left in the wild, and its South Island relatives are thought to be extinct.

General manager Emily Court said the centre and local iwi Rangitāne would be planning a farewell over the coming days.

Mavis Mullens, board co-chair and Rangitāne representative, said: “Our taonga manu don’t live forever, but they are here to inspire us to care much more deeply. We honour her for that and it strengthens our resolve to do as much as we can for biodiversity and protection of our most vulnerable manu.”

A previous RNZ story on Kahurangi explained some of her mannerisms, including a penchant for men with beards and the ability to wolf-whistle.

The half-whistle, half-bird call was a product of being hand reared, then-conservation manager Todd Jenkinson told RNZ.

“Young chicks learn their dialects off their parents and unfortunately she was hand raised and never got to learn her natural dialect.”