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2017 has been a big year for DOC and conservation. We look back at some of our stories over the year.

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He’s better looking than Bieber, more charismatic than Clooney and he has some pretty hardcore admirers.

Sirocco at Zealandia. Photo copyright of Janice McKenna.

One handsome bird

Sirocco the kākāpō is our social media superstar and New Zealand’s Official Spokesbird for Conservation. Today he has reached an amazing milestone in his quest for world domination by reaching a massive 100,000 devoted fans on his Facebook page.

This parrot is not just a national treasure, but also an international rock-star with fans from as far away as Serbia and Brazil. Over 6000 of his fans speak Arabic, 7000 speak Portuguese and 140 fans are even fluent in Pirate – arrrrrr me hearties!

Sirocco the rock-star kakapo book.

The rock-star

Through both Facebook and Twitter, Sirocco connects his fans (now over 100,000), their friends (millions of them), and the wider social media community (billions of them) to conservation messages and stories right here in New Zealand.

Sirocco's Facebook page.

100,000 likes

Sirocco’s high-flying career was launched in 2009 off the back of the BBC’s ‘Last Chance to See’ programme, when Sirocco attempted to mate with zoologist Mark Carwardine’s head. Footage of this event has now generated more than 6 million hits on YouTube.

Sirocco on Mark Carwardine's head with Stephen Fry.

Mark and Stephen

In January 2010 Sirocco was officially recognised as a conservation ambassador by the Prime Minister John Key, who named him the “Official Spokesbird for Conservation”. Mr Key said Sirocco would bring attention to the plight of our endangered species.

Sirocco is currently touring the country and will be on show from 19 September – 5 October at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin.

You can become one of Sirocco’s loyal followers over on Facebook and Twitter.

If you cast your mind back to August last year, you might remember my blog post asking you to ‘Join me on the Wildside‘ a new social media community run by DOC on Facebook and Twitter.

Today, I’m proud to be one of over 9,000 people who ‘like’ Wildside and aspire to the ‘Aotearoa New Zealand. Live it. Love it. Look after it. Together.’ vision.

Of course, we’d love to have more people join us, which is why we’ve created these beautiful postcards and posters to raise its profile in the ‘real’ i.e. offline world.

Wildside poster.

As a member of DOC’s web team I see a lot of beautiful images every day, but when I saw that photo on flickrshowing North East Gorge Stream, looking towards Mount SibbaldI knew it was the one for our Wildside project. Alana McCrossin, the amazing DOC designer who drew the short straw to work with me on the project, agreed.

I contacted the Sydney based photographer, Tim Donnelly, to ask if he’d let us use his image for the cause, and he kindly agreed—sacrificing his own precious time and money to help.

So, as much as this post is a shout out to Wildside—it’s also a shout out to the generous, talented, Tim Donnelly—and everyone else who willingly shares their time, gifts and talents to help grow conservation

On Thursday, Tim’s going to share his story behind that photo with us.


See the Wildside posters (on display) and postcards (free to take) at DOC visitor centres around the country.

Today’s photo shows DOC’s Mike Aviss (left) and Chris Birmingham (right) on Maud Island/Te Hoiere changing the transmitter on Rangi the takahē.

Changing the transmitter on takahe Rangi.

This image is one of the shots you’ll find in your feed when you follow DOC on Instagram.

Instagram is a free photo-sharing app for mobile devices. It allows us (and you!) to take, upload, edit and share photos.

By following DOC on Instagram you’ll be treated to images of the amazing species, places, plants, pursuits and people DOC gets to experience every day, taken by the rangers who are out there ‘doing it’.

Do you use Instagram? Let us know. We’re keen to connect!

www.instagram.com/docgovtnz

Sirocco the kākāpō, our social media superstar and New Zealand’s Official Spokesbird for Conservation, was introduced to a new Japanese audience last month and gained thousands of devoted new fans as a result. Tourism New Zealand tells the story:

Sirocco kākāpō. Photo copyright: Janice McKenna.

Sirocco kākāpō. Photo copyright: Janice McKenna

Sirocco the kākāpō has been charming a new international audience after a popular Japanese television show, with an audience in excess of 10 million, mentioned him during a feature on New Zealand in August.

When one of the presenters on the Sekai no Hatemade Itte Q! television show started talking about a kākāpō in New Zealand who had his own Twitter account, but could not recall the account name, the Tourism New Zealand team in Japan grabbed the opportunity to help and sent out a tweet introducing @Spokesbird:

“Looks like Sirocco is hooked on Twitter and Facebook! He said he wants a smart phone too, but the screen doesn’t work with his claws. There are only 124 kakapo alive today, and for Sirocco, every connection is an important one.”

Within a few hours this tweet had generated over 500 retweets and gained Sirocco the kākāpō over 2,000 new followers, all from Japan. Subsequent tweets about New Zealand’s native fauna and flora, as well as appeals to teach Sirocco Japanese, also proved popular with fans young and old.

One of the most popular tweets was when Sirocco tweeted:

日本まで飛んで皆さんに会いに行きたいけど、実は僕、世界で唯一飛べないオウムなんだよ(´・ ω・`)ショボーン。みんながNZまで会いに来てくれたら嬉しいな! 9/6~10/6 南島ダニーデンのオロコヌイ・エコサンクチュアリで僕と会えるよ。

Which translated is:

“I’d love to fly over and visit you all in Japan, but I can’t because I’m the world’s only flightless parrot [sad face]. I’d love it if you came to see me though. I’ll be at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin from Sept 9 till Oct 6.”

The New Zealand parrot shot to fame in 2009 off the back of the BBC’s ‘Last Chance to See’ programme, when Sirocco attempted to mate with zoologist Mark Carwardine’s head. Footage of this event generated more than half a million hits on YouTube and had social network sites buzzing.

In January 2010 Sirocco was officially recognised as a conservation ambassador by the Prime Minister John Key, who named the parrot the “Official Spokesbird for Conservation”. Mr Key commented on Sirocco’s “worldwide fan base” who “hang on every squawk that comes out of his beak” and said Sirocco would focus attention on the plight of endangered species.

Sirocco will be on show from 6 Sept – 6 Oct at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin and bookings from Japan are already coming in, with one fan coming back to see Sirocco after visiting him two years ago.

Both the original BBC programme ‘Last Chance to See’ and the Japanese visit from ‘Sekai no Hatemade Itte Q!’ were supported by Tourism New Zealand’s international media programme, reinforcing that key messages from these visits have impact beyond just their in market on air screenings.


Connect with Sirocco on Facebook and Twitter. He’s looking forward to meeting you.

Learn more about Sirocco: www.doc.govt.nz/sirocco.

Today, I’m inviting you somewhere special. Not many people know about this place yet – you’re one of the first. The place is called Wildside and it’s a new social media community run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) on Facebook and Twitter.

Wildside Facebook screenshot.

With the tagline Aotearoa New Zealand. Live it. Love it. Look after it. Together. Wildside promises inspiring stories, images, videos and conversations about:

Living on the wildside – tramping, camping, biking, hunting…

Loving the wildside – our places, plants, animals, people…

Looking after the wildside – protecting, restoring… doing our bit.

And, importantly, Wildside is about doing it together.

We didn’t want another place on the web about ‘DOC the government department’. Wildside is for, and about, everyone.

Wildside Twitter screenshot.

Here at DOC we’re working towards making New Zealand the greatest living space on Earth – but this vision isn’t just ours, and we can’t do it alone. We want you to join the journey – and Wildside will be a great place to start. Will you join us?

http://www.facebook.com/wildsidenz

http://twitter.com/wildsidenz