The native kōtuku or white heron is rare in New Zealand, but reasonably common in Asia and Australia, where it is known as the great egret. In New Zealand they breed at only one site – in forest above Westland’s Waitangiroto River. They probably became established only within the last few hundred years. The total New Zealand population is fewer than 200 birds, and they disperse around the country outside the breeding season. Revered by Māori and Europeans for their elegance and their rarity, kōtuku have also been poached for their lacy breeding feathers. They have been protected by law since 1885.
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
Photograph by Christina Troup
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