Chatham Island tūī 
PHOTO: Leon Berard | Creative Commons

Introduction

The Chatham Island tūī is a subspecies of the mainland tūī. It is larger and has longer throat tufts than its mainland counterpart and the song is also significantly different.

Highlights

New Zealand status: Endemic (to the Chatham Islands)
Conservation status: Nationally Threatened
Population: Scarce on Chatham Island, but locally abundant on Pitt and Rangitara Islands
Found in: Chatham Islands
Threats: Predation, habitat loss

Facts

Largely confined to Rangatira and Pitt Islands, the Chatham Island tūī has recently been restored to Chatham Island.

The population on Rangatira is estimated to be about 250 birds. The size of the Pitt Island population is unknown, but it appears that most of the breeding takes place on Rangatira.

Tūī feed on nectar, fruit and insects and are important for the pollination and seed dispersal of native forest plants. They are the only remaining honey eater on the Chatham Islands, following the extinction of the Chatham Island bellbird in the early 1900s.

Chatham tūī breed between November and January. 2-4 eggs are laid and typically 1-3 fledglings are reared.

Sound recording

Chatham Island tūī song (MP3, 2,982K)
03:10 – Adult male territorial calls.

Bird songs may be reused according to our copyright terms.

Threats

Loss of habitat, predation by feral cats, rodents and possums are likely to have been the main causes of decline of tūī. 

While there are significant areas of forest habitat remaining on southern Chatham Island, the combined pressure of predators and browsers appear to have been too much for tui to survive.

Our work

DOC is focussed on keeping the offshore island habitats of the Chatham Island tūī free of rodents and other predators.

Tūī were reintroduced to the south Chatham Island by the Taiko Trust, and are now successfully established. The trust and DOC are continuing work to assist tūī recovery to a wider area. This includes advocating for the protection of forest, and lowering the predator numbers in reserves around the Chatham Island.

Translocation success

Tūī translocated from Rangatira Island to Chatham Island. Photo: Taiko Trust.
Tūī translocated from Rangatira Island to Chatham Island

In March 2009 DOC assisted the Taiko Trust to translocate 14 juvenile Chatham Island tūī from Rangatira Island to Chatham Island. Not only did all 14 survive, but they started breeding in the spring of 2009.

This transfer proved to be a huge success. The tūī remained to breed and formed the centre of a permanent population, and tūī have begun to spread across the Chatham Islands.

The enthusiasm and support among locals was outstanding. It was the first major community-led project in the Chathams, and emphasised how much community conservation trusts can achieve. Find out more about the work of the Taiko Trust.

You can help

If you are travelling to the Chatham Islands, or transporting goods or livestock there, be careful that you don't inadvertantly introduce pest animals or plants or diseases that might threaten tūī or other rare and endangered flora and fauna in this unique environment.

Sightings of tūī on Chatham Island are of interest and should be reported to the DOC office.

Rekohu / Wharekauri / Chatham Island Office
Phone:   +64 3 305 0098
Address:   North Rd
Te One
Chatham Island
Email:   chathamislands@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
 
Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife. 

Help protect our native birds

When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • Check your gear for mice and rats when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Follow the water care code.
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
Other ways to help
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer with DOC or other groups to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set traps for stoats or rats on your property. Get more information from your local DOC office.
  • Put a bell on your cat's collar, feed it well, and keep it indoors at dusk/dawn and at night.
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