A tribute to the takahē

Department of Conservation —  20/11/2016

In the early twentieth century takahē were thought to be extinct – but on this day in 1948, Dr Geoffrey Orbell rediscovered a population in Fiordland’s Murchison Mountains.

The takahē is a relic from a time when gigantic moa roamed the forests and grasslands, and Haast eagles with a four metre wingspan hunted them.

Today we celebrate their rediscovery with a tribute to the takahē!

Dr Geoffrey Orbell rediscovers the takahē

Takahē were thought to be extinct but Dr Geoffrey Orbell suspected that they had survived. After following footprints, he rediscovered the species on 20 November 1948 in a remote valley of the Murchison Mountains near Lake Te Anau.

Dr Geoffrey Orbell. Photo: NZHerald.

Utterly adorable takahē chicks

Conservation efforts over the past 60 years have helped bring takahē back from the brink of extinction. Today the takahē population is over 300 birds thanks to the hard work of the Takahē Recovery Programme and the support of many dedicated individuals and organisations.

A recently hatched takahē chick at the Burwood Takahē Centre. Photo: Andrew Digby.

A recently hatched chick at the Burwood Takahē Centre. Photo: Andrew Digby

The friendly takahē at Zealandia

One of the best places to meet a takahē is at a display site. These are the sites which care for older or infertile birds or those who have bred a little too well and are now ‘over represented ‘in the takahē population.

Retired breeding pair, T2 and Puffin, at Zealandia.

Retired breeding pair, T2 and Puffin, at Zealandia

The call of the takahē

The main calls of takahē are a loud shriek, a quiet hooting contact call, and a muted boom indicating alarm.


© Copyright Radio New Zealand

Murchison Mountains release

The Murchison Mountains, the last refuge of takahē in the wild, is the only recovery site in the Takahē Recovery Programme.  The recovery site is a large area containing the necessities for a natural life.

takahe-release

Volunteer with Takahē Recovery

Looking after takahē in residence at the Burwood Takahē Centre takes a lot of work, and the rangers are often run off their feet.

Volunteer tops up a feeding station.

Volunteer tops up a feeding station.

If you are interested in dedicating a week or more at a time to help care for takahē at the Burwood Takahē Centre contact the Takahē Recovery Programme.


It was announced in July that leading civil engineering company Fulton Hogan will join the fight to save takahē. As part of this announcement, Newshub tracked down Joan Watson, 90, in Invercargill who was in the party that re-discovered the takahē in Fiordland’s Murchison mountains in 1948. Listen to her amazing recount of that day.