Staff at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre are mourning the loss of Kahurangi, the only North Island Kōkako in the world that was held in captivity.
Prior to arriving at Pūkaha in 2005, Kahurangi was rescued and hand reared as a chick, which made her too tame to be released into the wild.
A Pūkaha spokesperson said she had played a significant role in Aotearoa’s conservation efforts.
“With charm and charisma, she wowed thousands of visitors and students every year and raised awareness of this very special yet illusive native bird species.”
Kahurangi’s cause of death is unknown at this stage, but the spokesperson indicated that age may have been a factor.
Pūkaha board co-chair and Rangitāne representative Mavis Mullens said it is sad news.
“Our taonga manu [precious birds] don’t live forever, but they are here to inspire us to care much more deeply,” Mullens said.
“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 [birds].”
Pūkaha general manager Emily Court said staff, volunteers, and rangers “past and present” are devastated at the loss.
“Kahurangi has touched the lives of so many people both in Aotearoa and across the globe,” she said.
Over the coming days, Pūkaha and Rangitāne will work closely to prepare a suitable farewell for their “beautiful friend”, Court said.
“We know that the community will want to show their respect, and a suitable event will held for all of us to come together.”