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The weka is a large, brown flightless bird that has a famously feisty and curious personality. These two qualities traditionally made the bird an easy food source for Māori and early European settlers.

Because of its scavenging habit, the weka occupies a problematic conservation niche. Some subspecies are threatened, but moving them to offshore islands can disrupt other threatened wildlife species, especially lizards, seabirds and other ground-nesting birds.

For example, weka released onto Codfish Island, where they did not occur in recent time, threatened the viability of the Cook’s petrels there and were removed.

Historically, the weka was a significant resource for some iwi, and the birds’ availability for sustainable harvest (mahinga kai) remains an important issue in weka conservation. Weka were also used by early European settlers, who gave it the name woodhen.

The weka’s best known call is a repetitive, loud ‘coo-et’ that is usually heard at dusk and in the early evening. It is presented as a duet, with the male giving the lower and slower part.


Weka are usually heard, not seen, although some birds, usually those living near farms or tramping huts, get a reputation for pilfering crops, food and other small objects.

They will take the objects to the nearest cover to investigate them. For this reason it is best not to chase weka but to simply watch where the weka goes and retrieve the objects a little later.

Kawakawa Bay Weka are North Island weka (G. a. grey)

This sub-species was once widespread, but is now only found on the mainland in the hills between Matawai and Opotiki, where a few thousand survive. Since 2000, weka have been released near Russell, and there is a small population on the margins of the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland.

A substantial proportion of the population is on Kawau Island. Several other offshore island populations have also been established and they are also on Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua.


Information from http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/weka/