New Zealand Pigeon
New Zealand's native pigeon, also known as kererū, kūkū and kūkupa and wood pigeon, is the only disperser of large fruits, such as those of karaka and taraire, we have. The disappearance of the kererū would be a disaster for the regeneration of our native forests.
The kererū is a large bird with irridescent green and bronze feathers on its head and a smart white vest. The noisy beat of its wings is a distinctive sound in our forests. The pigeon is found in most lowland native forests of the North, South and Stewart/Rakiura islands and many of their neighbouring islands.
There are two species of native pigeon, the New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) known to the Maori as kererū, or in Northland as kūkū or kūkupa, and the Chatham Islands pigeon (Hemiphaga chathamensis) or parea.
The parea is found mainly in the south-west of Chatham Island. While there are only about 500 parea left, the species has made a remarkable recovery over the past 20 years, due to habitat protection and predator control.
Two other kinds of native pigeon became extinct on Raoul Island and Norfolk Island last century, probably due to hunting and predation.
Since the extinction of the moa, the native pigeon is now the only seed disperser with a bill big enough to swallow large fruit, such as those of karaka, tawa and taraire.
It also eats leaves, buds and flowers, the relative amounts varying seasonally and regionally, e.g. in Northland the birds eat mostly fruit.