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Natives

North Island Weka

north island weka

Gallirallus australis (also known as woodhen, woodrail)

Distribution:

Once widespread, the North Island Weka are now found on the mainland in the hills between Matawai and Opotiki, where a few thousand survive. Since 2000, weka have been released near Russell, in the Whirinaki Forest, and there is a small population on the margins of the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. 


A substantial portion 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. 

Habitat:

Rocky shorelines, sand dunes, swamp margins, scrub, forest, and alpine tussock and even settled areas provided there is dense vegetation for cover.

Diet:

Mainly fruits and invertebrates. Occasionally they eat chitons and other rocky coast invertebrates, lizards, rodents, food scrapes, carrion and the eggs and young of other nesting birds.

Breeding:

Mainly September–April

Nest:

Hidden in vegetation or logs, or other shelter, made of coarse grass, lined with soft vegetation, wool, feathers, hair or leaves

Eggs:

Three to four eggs incubated for 25-27 days

Chicks:

Stay close to nest for first 2-4 days

Threats:

Humans and introduced predators.  

Conservation status:

Endemic. North Island Weka are fully protected, as are the Stewart Island weka and Western weka.  However Buff weka (Chatham Islands) are not protected.

General:

The weka is a large brown flightless bird with a famously feisty and curious personality. Their colouring is excellent camouflage for a ground dwelling bird. Its best known call is a repetitive, loud ‘coo-et’ that is usually heard in the early evening and at dusk. They walk with a deliberate stride, tail-flicking and are also a fast runner with neck held outstretched. Weka have a remarkable homing instincts which makes relocating difficult.

At Hamilton Zoo:

Head to the Weka Walk and you may come across our two North Island Weka. Both are males, the oldest hatched 3 December 2003 and the younger January 2011.