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The Great Kererū Count 2018 has finished

This week hundreds of New Zealand citizen scientists made just over 8,800 observations of kererū, from as far north as Mangonui and south as Pikaroro Bay, Stewart Island, helping build a comprehensive longitudinal study of how our native pigeon is doing.

The nationwide count ended last night (Sunday 30 Sept) but people are still being urged to submit any sightings of kererū that occurred during the 10-day count period.

As the 2018 count closed over 18,723 kererū had been counted. Last year, a total of 15,459 kererū counted.

Tony Stoddard, Kererū Discovery Trust thanks all who took part. “We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the count and shared their kererū observations.

It’s not too late to report any sightings made between 21-30 September and quick observations on the Great Kererū Count website will remain open for the next two days.

This is New Zealand’s biggest citizen science project and our only comprehensive record of how these amazing birds are doing. The stories, photos and observations people have sent in over the last 10 days has been awe-inspiring and makes me proud to be a kiwi.

It shows the deep care and respects there is for this bird, and just how much New Zealander’s love native birds.”

Dr Stephen Hartley, Director of the Centre of Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology at Victoria University of Wellington, says: “Even though the Great Kererū Count doesn’t tell us exactly how many kererū there are in the country, over time it can tell us if numbers are increasing or decreasing in certain areas relative to others. For instance, this year 48% of urban participants reported that kererū numbers appear to be increasing in their locality, and 39% of participants in rural areas also reported an increase. Less than 8% of people reported a decrease in either setting, which is highly encouraging.

A common question is how we deal with the fact that there are more people in some areas compared to others. While Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin accounted for the greatest number of records, the number of kererū recorded per head of population points to the West Coast of the South Island as the hotspot for kererū. A more detailed breakdown of the final figures will be available in the coming weeks.

If you didn’t see kererū in your area at this time of year, but they come visiting at other times, observations can be recorded year-round via i-Naturalist, and these will also help build a national picture of seasonal movements.”

Kererū are protected birds and endemic to New Zealand. Kererū numbers today are much lower than the flocks reported from 50-100 years ago. Kererū are known as the gardeners-of-the-skies and play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of large native trees like tawa, taraire and matai.  They are the only bird left in New Zealand that can distribute these large seeds and help keep native forests growing.  Information and data collected from this nation-wide citizen science project will be used to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests.

The main threat to kererū is predation by introduced mammalian predators, particularly feral cats, possums, stoats and rats. These threats are even more serious for kererū during nesting season, as unlike many of our other native birds, kererū only lay one egg per nest. Other threats include collisions with man-made objects such as fast-moving vehicles, overhead power and telephone wires, fences and windows, and most alarmingly, illegal hunting of kererū.

Each year the number of people participating in the Great Kererū Count has been steadily increasing. This long-term dataset will have significant value in helping understand the importance of conservation activities like restoration, trapping, and aerial 1080 operations in helping kererū numbers increase.

The Great Kererū Count is a collaborative project lead by Kererū Discovery in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington, WWF-New Zealand and Wellington City Council.


Additional information

  • Kererū are also known as kūkū / kūkupa/ kokopa / New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) and the parea / Chatham Islands pigeon (Hemiphaga chathamensis).
  • The Great Kererū Count is in its fifth year.
  • In 2018: 18,981 kererū were counted by more than 8,879 observations.
  • In 2017: 15,459 kererū were counted by more than 6,946 observations.
  • The Great Kererū Count observations can be made using the Quick Observation page (no log-in required), or using the iNaturalist app for Android and iPhones. The app is available to download free from


Kererū Photos

High-resolution photos are available to download and use for media from:

all images © Tony Stoddard from Kererū Discovery Trust

Kererū video footage and Great Kererū Count poster, banner, flyer

These are available for download from Google Drive

all images and video © Tony Stoddard from Kererū Discovery Trust

Social Media
Kererū Discovery Facebook:
Kererū Discovery Twitter:



For more information, please contact:

Dr Stephen Hartley – Director of the Centre of Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology at Victoria University of Wellington

Tony Stoddard – Kererū Discovery Trust –

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