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Elusive South Island kōkako To Compete For Bird of the Year

Can a bird once declared extinct take out the 2019 Bird of the Year Competition?

Elusive South Island kōkako To Compete For Bird of the Year - 1



Despite no confirmed sightings in 12 years, and having once been classed as extinct, the South Island kōkako is in the running for BotY.

The elusive bird’s campaigners say the lack of photos, videos or live action meme worthy material won’t hold the bird’s campaign back. has supported Bird of The Year since launching, lending its support to the Kea Conservation Trust in 2017 & Kakī Recovery Programme in 2018. This year they will be giving their full support to the South Island kōkako Charitable Trust. “Our involvement in BotY has been plenty of fun and the antics employed by campaigners is at times hilarious. Finding the Kākī on Tinder dating app last year was humorous and a novel way to promote their cause” says Jen Branje of

There is a serious side to the campaign though. Conservationists are hoping the SI kōkako’s raised profile during BotY may lead to a confirmed sighting of the bird.

“Our aim to have the South Island kōkako included in Bird of the Year 2019 is to raise awareness while offering visual & audio resources to visitors and locals alike” Jen says.

Inger Perkins, Manager of the South Island Kōkako Charitable Trust, added:

“We believe this precious bird is on the brink of extinction, so there certainly is an urgency to this project. We are offering a $10,000 reward for information, ideally a photograph, that results in confirmation that the South Island kōkako is still alive so that it can be conserved appropriately. There has been widespread interest in the search and reports of possible encounters have been made from native forests from the top of the South Island down to Stewart Island. These are helping narrow down the search and more information is on our website and our interactive map of encounters.”

Tireless in his search for the South Island kōkako, Rhys Buckingham elaborates. “Our current search focusses around the use of camera traps (remote game cameras) and suitable lures deployed at ‘hotspots’. Key search areas using these cameras are at the Heaphy Track and way down South near Lake Moeraki in South Westland, both areas being under DOC predator control management. Granville Forest (near Ahaura between Reefton and Greymouth), which probably has more kōkako reports than anywhere else we know, is also a key search area covered by the South Island Kōkako Trust.”

Calling themselves ‘Team GhostSeekers’ after ‘The Grey Ghost’, a name affectionately given to the elusive South Island kōkako, it remains to be seen (pardon the pun), whether leading a ‘ghost bird’ to the winner’s podium in Bird of the Year 2019 is as difficult as sighting the rare species.


You can follow Team GhostSeekers on Facebook. Supporters are also encouraged to donate to the South Island kōkako Charitable Trust so they can continue to search for the elusive 'Grey Ghost'. 

Image photoshopped by Oscar Thomas to represent SI kōkako. 

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