7 names our Royal Cam chick could’ve had

Department of Conservation —  29/08/2019

Recently we announced this season’s Royal Cam albatross chick would be named Karere, meaning messenger or ambassador in te reo Māori.

If you’re new to Royal Cam – where have you been?!

This is a 24-hour live stream of an albatross nest in Pukekura/Taiaroa Head. Its stars have amassed global popularity and steal hearts wherever they’re streamed.

📷: DOC

Karere got her name as a result of the 2019 Name the Chick competition. We received hundreds of entries from Royal Cam fans all over the world, and the winning name was selected from a shortlist by Te Poāri a Pukekura, Pukekura Co-management Trust.

But because we know you can’t get enough of the albatross-tic stars of Royal Cam (and to be honest, same); we thought we’d delve into some of our favourite or most unique submissions.

Our first runner up: Hinewai

This means water maiden in te reo Māori. It’s a name usually given to young women who seem at home with water. Basically, if Disney do a sequel to Moana, it could be called Hinewai —but that’s just a suggestion, Disney. You can do what you want.

This name is pretty on the beak though, because soon the chick will fly 9000 km across the Pacific Ocean to the squid rich waters of the Humboldt Current near South America, before coming back home to Taiaroa Head to mate.

📷: DOC

Fluffy McFluff-face

There’s always one.

In case you’re not up to speed, this submission is along the lines of lines of that infamous poll to name a RRS boat. Think Birdy McBird-face, Albie McAlbatross-face, etc etc. It’s … fun, but not really a runner. We get it, the public feel cheated the boat didn’t get the winning name, and they want justice. It’s just that we probably wouldn’t subject a bird to that, sorry. Birds have feelings.


This was the name of an albatross in Māori legend who was renowned as a great flyer. As per the legend, the landscape of Mana Island and Whitireia is derived from Awarua who ploughed into them while learning to fly. Awarua was envious of her best friend Rereroa, the albatross, who could fly across the ocean gracefully.

📷: DOC

That’ll be you soon, mate.


So suggested in tribute to our biodiversity ranger, Sharyn Broni; who looks after the Royal Cam chicks. The person who submitted said they were suggesting it “on account of the tireless work and effort Sharyn puts in answering questions in a language a layperson understands. These birds are her passion”.

Ka pai, Ranger Sharyn. That’s spot on.


This name was shortlisted. Rangimarie means peace or peaceful in te reo, and viewers felt this described this year’s chick perfectly. One viewer said, “She has a very peaceful nature and her white feathers remind us [in Dunedin] of our link to the men of Parihaka who wore white feathers as a sign of peace. This beautiful albatross fills everyone who views her with a sense of peace.

Another said, “This means peace, and after this terrible year for Aotearoa this chick has symbolised hope and brought those who love her an oasis of peace.”

📷: DOC

No Plastic

While this name didn’t make the short list – probably because it doesn’t seem kind to give a sentient being a name starting with a massive neg; it brings a serious message.

Sharyn says, “a massive hazard for our seabirds is plastic. There are many small ways we can reduce plastic in our day to day lives to protect these birds in their natural environment.5

“We’ve previously collected plastic fragments that birds have swallowed in the ocean. It’s sad to see the impact of human behaviour on birds so close to home, but this is the reality of what these birds are dealing with once they leave the sanctuary of Taiaroa Head.”

Recently, the birds have been regurgitating in preparation for their big flight, and one of them threw up this:

📷: DOC

This could have been something that a fish ingested, then the bird ate the fish, but regardless, plastic like this has no business being in an albatross’ belly.

You can learn more about how to reduce your use of plastic and help seabirds on our website.


So suggested because of ‘the wonderful beak they have for feeding.’

Which is accurate. Ta.

📷: DOC; Royal Cam screengrab. Iconic.

Plenty of names full of love

Proving that most people are kind, there were many suggestions prompted by love. There was Atawhai & Manaaki, which have similar meanings of caring for, having compassion, or being tender-hearted. There was also Amala, which is Arabic and suggested as a tribute; and Harikoa, which means joy. Many of the rationales for these suggestions were related to pulling together as a country after a tragedy.  

And the winner, Karere

A name meaning messenger or ambassador is especially fitting for this chick, as she is a global ambassador for the royal albatross species. She is publicising the plight of her kind and the hazards we can minimize to ensure they thrive.

Ranger Sharyn says this albatross needed a name to reflect her special status. “Joining Moana, Tūmanako and Amīria before her, this young albatross is an ambassador for seabirds everywhere.”

Thank you!

Kia ora to Air New Zealand, the Royal Albatross Centre and the Otago Peninsula Trust for sponsoring the Name a Chick Competition.

The official shortlisted names were:

Atawhai or Manaaki; Rangimārie or Te Rangimārie; Amala; Aoife; Hine-o-te-Rangi or Hinerangi; Hinewai; Maia or Māia; Pania; and Hokianga.

As hard-core Royal cam fans will already know, Te Poāri a Pukekura’s decision & Karere’s name is final, but just for fun, feel free to tell us your favourite in the comments.   

2 responses to 7 names our Royal Cam chick could’ve had


    I am interested as to why no English or non Maori name is ever chosen for these chicks. Is it because there is an unwritten rule that all such birds HAVE to have a maori name to satisfy the maori people for some reason? It seems very one sided so I would appreciate an answer thank you and/or thoughts of others who care to make a comment.


      It is totally appropriate for a bird native to Aotearoa to carry a Maori name. Your question as to whether they are so named to “satisfy the maori people”, is arrogant and racist. I love the chosen name and hope Karere enjoys a long life of ambassadorship for her kind.