Save the kererū

The magnificent kererū is vitally important in New Zealand and you, the kids of today, will be its guardians in the future.

It’s critical because the giant pigeon is the only bird who has a mouth big enough to swallow the seeds of the giant trees and fly the long distances required to scatter them for regeneration. If we fail to sustain the kererū, the oxygen cycle will be affected because our giant trees, like kauri, will gradually die out. Others include miro, tawa, karaka, pūriri and taraire.


Kids can help kererū in emergencies.

  • If you ever find a starving, sick, injured or abandoned bird, look at the back of this book.
  • The video below shows you how to wrap the giant pigeon – or any other bird – before taking it in a cardboard box to a vet, a sanctuary or the NZ Department of Conservation (DOC).
  • While in transit, always ensure that the car radio is switched off to avoid scaring the bird.

Project Kererū

  • DOC sends injured, abandoned or starving birds from all over Otago to Dunedin and the volunteer organisation, Project Kererū, which has cared for hundreds of them over twenty years. Sometimes the giant pigeons travel there from other parts of New Zealand.
  • A former veterinary nurse, Nik Hurring, is in charge of two aviaries where the birds are brought back to health and rehabilitated in the wild. It can get very busy during the hot summer months when the aviaries often have 15 to 16 birds needing help.
  • Knowing the region the bird came from is essential for success because they offer slightly different diets. North Island kererū favour fruit but the South Island birds include more leaves and buds because of the colder climate.

The Story of Pea-eating Bill

In 2014, a starving chick was found in Wellington and taken to the zoo. They called him Bill. Because he was caged all his life, he loved eating peas. He became addicted to them.

He was sent to Project Kererū aviary in Dunedin. There he received special treatment and training in the ways of wild. After a long time, he was released onto a “safe” property. He found a girl-friend who has been showing him the ropes; she is the first kererū hand-raised there.

Let’s hope Bill and his mate have a happy life together in the wild and successfully raise many chicks.

They were saved birds and if generations of New Zealanders continue to ensure that the kererū are looked after too, it will help to maintain the oxygen cycle which is essential for all life.

Little Truff shows she understands this in the story, Little Truff and the kererū, when she says to the giant pigeon as off he flew…

“By saving you, we save ourselves and save the forest too.”

  • Explore the Fun and Games section to find out more about the wonderful kererū.
  • If you are aged 8 years or over, get a copy of “Little Truff saves the kererū” by Ann Russell. It is an animal adventure story packed with action, humour and suspense. You’ll love it!