By Ruth Keber
12:00 PM Sunday Jun 19, 2016
A rare New Zealand bird once close to extinction now has the opportunity to flourish in one of the Bay's most protected forests.
The kokako, known for its beautiful song, once thrived across the country but numbers slowly declined over the years until the population fell to 1000 to 1200 birds in the 1980s. The dark blue-greyish bird, which has bright blue wattles on either side of its beak, is slightly bigger than the tui. Nineteen of the species were first introduced to the Otanewainuku forest in 2010. By 2014, numbers had grown to 24.
The Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust has an opportunity to boost the population by 10 more birds in August, transferring them from the Kaharoa forest in Rotorua.
Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust chairman Hans Pendergrast said the kokako were not only special for their beautiful song, but the species' survival meant the survival of New Zealand's bush.
"We nearly lost them, we got down to such low numbers, they are far more endangered than kiwi.