Our aim is to protect the native flora and fauna species by removing the threat caused by the pest species. As we learn more about this amazing area and the species that dwell there, we will continue to update these pages.

Rotoehu Forest (Pongakawa Ecological Area and Otari Block) are home to the following species.

Native birds

Kōkako, tūī, paradise shelduck, bellbird, whitehead, fantail, long-tailed cuckoo, rifleman, shining cuckoo, tomtit, kererū, North Island robin, kākā, ruru, silvereye and kārearea

Our native mammals

Long-tailed bat, Short-tailed bat

Our native plants

Rimu, miro, tawa, puriri, clematis, koromiko, kohekohe, rewarewa, mahoe. tree ferns, kawakawa, rata, five finger, bush lawyer, supplejack.


Kōkako were once widespread throughout New Zealand however there are now only 14 small remnant populations in the North Island. The focus of kōkako management throughout New Zealand is to improve the status of North Island kōkako from endangered by restoring the national population to around 1,000 breading pairs by the year 2020, in sustainable communities through the North Island. To achieve this goal DOC and others actively manage many remnant populations to increase breeding success and boost bird numbers.  A major component of this management is undertaking pest control to ensure the birds achieve successful breeding. Kōkako have also been reintroduced to several pest-free islands and sanctuaries from these remnant populations in the hope of increasing bird numbers and securing the population at additional sites.  This also helps reduce the risks of bird disease and inbreeding. Pongakawa Ecological Area is currently home to approximately 129 kōkako with additional 15 in Otari Block.  More information can be found on the Department of Conservation website.

Kōkako call, sourced from the Department of Conservation CC-BY


Kokako observed in Pongakawa Ecological Area, September 2016

Coral tooth fungus
Large Brown Vagrant Spider (Uliodon albopunctatus)
New Zealand Giraffe Weevil (Lasiorhynchus barbicornis)

Pest Species

Our primary animal pests are rat (primarily ship rat), possum, mustelids (stoat, weasel and ferret), cats, dama wallaby, rabbit, hedgehog and red deer.  Our primary plant pests are blackberry, pampas, eucalyptus and wilding conifers.


Number 1 - Ship rat
Ship rats are excellent climbers and take out our female kokako while they are sitting on their nests. They also eat the eggs. Rat numbers return to very high numbers soon after pest control operations, making them our number one pest species. We control rats with poison operations as well as a network of DOC 200 traps baited with long life chocolate lures which are checked frequently.
Number 2 - Possum
Possums are in relatively low numbers with in Pongakawa Ecological Area (Residual Trap Catch (RTC) gets to about 6 % after three years), but they compete for the same food the kokako eat which is not a good thing. They also eat kokako and kokako eggs.
Number 3 - Stoat
Stoats are useful for us in that they eat some of the rats which helps with our most wanted pest. But when rat numbers are low, such as during a poison operation, stoats could potentially target other species including kokako. We do not specifically target them apart from during a pest control operation, however we occasionally catch them in our DOC 200 traps which are setup for rat control.
Number 4 - Weasel
Number 5 - Ferret
Number 6 - Feral cat (or wandering pet cats)
Cats probably don’t worry kokako too much, and they may keep the rabbit and rat numbers down, but they will target other native birds species and native bats. Domestic Cats have been tagged within the Pongakawa Ecological Area and have found to call Manawahe home which is about 17 km away.
Number 7 - Dama Wallaby
We are still to work out the exact extent of the damage caused by wallabys in our block. They generally are out an about in the late evening and during the hours of darkness. They eat the new seedlings and stop the next generation of kokako food to grow up.
Number 8 - Rabbit
Rabbits eat the next generation of kokako tucker, the general Rotoehu area is a paradise for rabbits with the low rainfall and soft soils so they are in very high numbers. Luckily within our blocks they mainly hang out close to the farm land so only impact on the first 100-200 meters of native forest.
Number 9 - Hedgehog
These guys eat eggs of ground nesting birds, not too much of an issue for native inhabitants but controlling them keeps the game bird hunters happy. However these are the worst things to get out of a trap with all their spines, fatty juices and their really bad smell. (Anyone keen to clear traps for us??)
Number 10 - Red deer
Red deer and possibly some fallow deer are present in reasonably low numbers. They eat the next generation of kokako food and any low vegetation up to about 2 meters. Given that there is no on-site water in the block the deer may move through or only inhabit the bush during the wetter winter months.