Richard Henry's cottage

“Richard Henry, caretaker, Resolution Island, was landed by S.S. “Hinemoa” at Dusky Sound on the 19th July, 1894. It was blowing very hard at the time, and therefore it was a good opportunity for him to choose a sheltered spot for camping. This he found, after a hard day's rowing up the sound at Pigeon Island, in a little bay on the north side of it, which he describes as an almost perfect site, and where he erected his first shelter, and afterwards his house. — C.W. Chamberlain, Commissioner of Crown Lands, Dunedin, Report on Resolution Island, set apart for preservation of New Zealand fauna and flora.

As you know I had visitors at New Year, and they brought me a new dog, which turned out well for my purpose. The first day I was out with him for a bona fide hunt he found me three Kakapo's nests in about an hour; each had two little young ones in it; so I could not remove them under such circumstances. When these grow up will be the time to move them, and perhaps they will be glad of a new country then.

The dog wears a light cage-muzzle quite contentedly, and works close around me, so that he has not time to do much harm. The mother Kakapo is also quite fierce, and charges so viciously that “Foxy” gets a fright and barks. She stands over the young ones, or between them and the danger, and has, no doubt, learned to do so to protect them from the rats, for I have found young ones at Te Anau that have been bitten by rats. But I do not know how she manages when away for food, for I do not think the male assists her at all. I have never found one near a nest, nor do I think she ever has a mate like other birds, only a “gay Lothario” that she hears singing in the bush, and goes to see; for, though they live in dens where there would be room for a dozen, I never found two old ones in the same hole.

At Te Anau they only breed every second year, and if they hold to this wonderful social rule on this side of the range there will be no drummers nor young ones here next year. Once at Te Anau they skipped two years in succession; so that they have a curious, but possibly an effective, way of adjusting population to supplies of food.

I have been all up and down the sound, and found out where they like best to live. At the mouth of the Wet Jacket, under Mount Foster, is a good place to get Kakapos, and it is only a mile from Resolution; but there is no boat harbour, and we can only land, or leave, at high water to be sure of the safety of our boat.

On the other side of Dusky, a mile east of Cooper Island, there are two great landslips — some hundreds of acres — covered with green scrub, where we heard Kakapos drumming in dozens on the 5th of February.

In Wet Jacket, opposite the island, is also a good place for birds, but the scrub is very dense. We camped on the east end of Cooper Island, which is in extent about 8 miles square; heard grey Kiwis there, and plenty of woodhens, but no Kakapos or Roas.

— from further report by Richard Henry to the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Dunedin.

Map of Resolution Island
Sub Species:

Song:  — 

 Viking Sevenseas

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»»»  Song of Kakapo

Other common names:  — 

Owl parrot.

Description:  — 

Endemic bird

63 cm., male 2.5 kg., female 2 kg., moss green above, greenish yellow below, mottled with fine brown and yellow bars, owl-like facial disk.

Where to find:  — 

Probably the only real opportunity to see a Kakapo is as a Department of Conservation volunteer, although one of the 86 remaining flightless parrots will be taken from his Codfish Island home to Ulva Island for selected visitors to view from late August, 2006. Both islands are close to Stewart Island.

Poetry:  — 

The Owl is silent, dark, and still
And so, out in the ancient countries—
How strange they seem, those old far lying countries—
They hold him bird of wisdom and of will.

They never saw the Kakapo,
That, like the squirrel, laughs at winter.
Now has an owl the sense to laugh at winter?
Our bird is thrifty - they, what do they know?

And if their owls are then so wise,
Have they been known to meet in conclave?
Our Kakapos hold high and secret conclave,
And summon parliaments if need arise?

Oh, they may keep their haughty little Owl.
Our bird is sweet to little children,
Friendly, and frank, and clumsy, like the children,
What friendship is there in an owl?

Then live, oh live, old tumbling Kakapo,
Our mossy roots are yours, are yours forever,
Our trees, our bush, our banks are yours forever,
Live on and leave us not, O Kakapo!

— Eileen Duggan

Illustration description: — 


Department of Lands and Survey, New Zealand, Report for the Year 1894–95, Wellington, 1895.

Reference(s): — 


Department of Lands and Survey, New Zealand, Report for the Year 1894-95, Wellington, 1895., pages 94–104, Reports on Little Barrier and Resolution Islands, set apart for preservation of New Zealand fauna and flora.

Page date & version: — 


Saturday, 24 May 2014; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.