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Special bird recalled at Pūkaha today

To celebrate the life of Kahurangi, the North Island kōkako who recently died at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, members of the public are invited to gather at the sanctuary today for some themed entertainment.

Kahurangi was rescued and hand reared as a chick, and after becoming too tame to fend for herself in the wild, she lived happily at Pūkaha from 2005.

Much to the sadness of Pūkaha staff and visitors, she died at the beginning of December last year.

Todd Jenkinson, chair of the Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance, described Kahurangi as a “real ambassador for her species”.

“Everyone knows what a kaka is, and a kea, and a kiwi,” Jenkinson said.

“But not a lot of people knew what a kōkako was, and it was amazing in Wairarapa that we had a kōkako.

“There are people who have been working with kōkako for years who are very sad to learn of her passing.”

Reflecting on Kahurangi’s charismatic personality, Jenkinson said she “had plenty of quirks”.

“We think she was hand-raised by a man because she was always quite fond of young men and beards,” he said.

“She had her own dialect in a sense, she would imitate people in what sounded like a wolf whistle.”

Unsure of how many people will attend today’s event, Pūkaha general manager Emily Court said she and the team really miss the cheeky bird’s presence.

“She was such an important part of the Pūkaha experience, but we want to honour her with lots of fun and celebrate her life while raising awareness about the North Island kōkako.”

Those attending are encouraged to dress up in blue, with spot prizes up for grabs.

Entry to the event – which starts at 10am this morning – is $5, and the activities on offer will include a kids scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, limited edition artwork, live music, and a ranger talk at 11am.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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