Eye kept on Kaikoura kea

More than 30 people turned out to a meeting last week to hear about plans for researching kea in the Kaikoura district next summer.

Tamsin Orr-Walker, Kea Conservation Trust chairwoman and Dr Lorne Roberts of Unitec Institute of Technology spoke about the research project.

The Seaward Kaikouras are home to the most eastern population of kea in New Zealand and they have not previously been studied.

Little is known about their range and their nesting behaviour.

They share the area with Hutton's shearwaters which nest 1200 to 1800 metres above sea level, making them one of the highest nesting seabirds in the world.

The relationship between kea and the shearwaters is before the seabirds fledge.

This project will not only continue to build on kea population estimates across their range, focusing on numbers of breeding females and nestling survivorship at representative sites undergoing differing predator control regimes, but will also provide a fascinating insight into the relationship between these two species at the Kaikoura site which is poorly understood.

The Kea Conservation Trust plans a 2013-2014 summer survey of this population, supported by funding from the Lottery Grants Board.

Site co-ordinator Corey Mosen has already visited Kaikoura to check access requirements and will be taking an experienced team in during January.


Research by the Kea Conservation Trust and Department of Conservation has identified nine threats to the wild kea population.

Introduced mammalian predators.

Lead in kea habitat (flashings and lead-head nails, tyre weights, lead shot).

Ground-based pest control devices (poison baits and traps laid for pest control).

Aerial 1080 pest control (direct consumption of poison pellets).

Avian diseases.

Climate change (through changes in predator abundance, food availability and habitat).

Accidents with human objects (motor vehicles, snow groomers, rubbish bins, electricity sub-stations, life-stylers).

Kaikoura Star