Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Learn a little more about one of New Zealand's most threatened native plant species. It's not likely you will see one in the bush anytime soon, but keep an eye out, you could be DOC's new hero!
Status: Nationally Critical: most severely threatened, facing an immediate high risk of extinction.
Ngutukākā is not widely known due to its rarity, with only 150 plant specimens in the wild. However, it has become a symbol for threatened plant species in New Zealand. The Māori name for this plant, ngutukākā, literally translates to “beak of” (ngutu) “kaka” (kākā). The plant is appropriately named as its petals are shaped like the beak of the infamously cheeky kākā bird.
Kakabeak was one of the first plants in New Zealand to have a recovery plan. In 1993, the Department of Conservation (DOC) composed a full report which outlined the threats to the species and mitigation methods. As with the majority of threatened species in New Zealand, the biggest threats to ngutukākā are competition from gorse and other exotic plant species, and predation by invasive pest species such as goats, rabbits and deer.
Efforts have been made across the country to conserve the remaining individuals. You can help by keeping an eye out for the characteristic red flower (blooming season is typically around September/ October) or by talking to your local DOC office.
Sahmay is studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Science at AUT. She is very fond of native plants and spends her spare time hiking and trying to figure out which berries and mushrooms she can consume without dying.