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The Ranger Journals

Protecting kereru - the NZ native wood pigeon

About the Kereru

NZ wood pigeon are a magnificent forest bird.  They are nothing like the common rock pigeon one see’s around city streets. They perform a vital role in NZ’s forest ecosystem.

My Colleagues

Much of the work and adventures I have embarked upon would not have been possible without my friends and colleagues, especially Eddie, Murray, Adrian, Bruce, and others. Even more thanks to the patience of our wives & partners.

Welcome to the Ranger Journals

This is a chronological series of events surrounding my experiences in Northern NZ whilst attempting to protect the NZ native wood pigeon, known as  kukupa in Northland and kereru further south. These adventures cover the years from the mid 1980’s through to present and include my work as an honorary wildlife ranger and latterly as a conservation officer working within the Department of Conservation. Most of the stories here are in chapter form, since they are the beginnings of a book which will eventually be published. I encourage you to read them and give me feedback, positive or otherwise. All the characters and events in these journals are real, I have simply omitted persons last names. Some locations may be altered slightly to maintain anonymity if required.

Kereru, kukupa, kuku, the NZ wood pigeon were once a staple diet for early Maori, hunted by traditional means using spear, and snare. When Europeans landed and began to colonise and settle in New Zealand they introduced more modern weaponry. Kereru were hunted by both European and Maori all through the late 1800’s and into the mid 1900’s to such an extent that the species were threatened with extinction. Not only are they very slow breeders producing no more than one chick per season (if lucky) kereru were also facing the widespread destruction of forest habitat

Once only having man as predator, they began to face other introduced predators. The Norway rat, and the mustelids, weasels, stoats and ferrets, the feline cats, and finally the possum who have been filmed predating eggs out of kereru nests.

In 1953 the Wildlife Act was introduced in order to protect the majority of New Zealand's native bird species, however this legislation has not entirely stopped the illegal harvest of this beautiful bird species. In places such as northern NZ, harvest continued using shotgun, silenced .22 rifles with telescopic sights, often on horseback.  

This site and my journals tells a little bit of my story - my contribution to my friend the kereru. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Photo - R Atkinson

The Support

Thanks to people like Sandra, who took it to the streets, the marae, the schools, selling the message about preserving kereru for future generations, until her messages began appearing in their dozens, placed by children on the Ronald McDonald pages of local newspapers, telling their parents the story of the ecological importance of this beautiful New Zealand bird. “Dont shoot our kereru!”

New Zealand native wood pigeon, Kereru, kukupa, kuku (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)

Photo - R. Atkinson

The Historical taking of Kereru

Here is a link to some historical background on early conservation of kukupa


Check out the stories

My Beginnings