The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database

Porphyrio hochstetteri Meyer, 1883:28

Takahē, Takahe, South Island takahē, South Island takahe, Notornis, Moho, Takahea (archaic) (used by Matheson, 1940; but see Turbott, 1951b)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Notornis hochstetteri Meyer, 1883:28


Conservation Status

Last record: 1898

Rediscovered in 20 November 1948

IUCN RedList status: Endangered


North Island

Although only known prehistorically from the North Island (Millener, 1981), a possible record from 1894 exists (Phillipps, 1959).


South Island

European discovery, prior to disappearance

Four specimens were collected prior to it's presumed extinction, in 1849, 1851, 1879 and 1898 (Lindsay, 1961). Lindsay (Ibid.) found that all four specimens, [i]contra[/i] prior information about the collection of the first three specimens (supposedly collected under less than ideal conditions), were in fact collected or preserved by skilled persons.


According to a reproduced version of what is presumably an historical article, only three specimens were collected prior to it's presumed extinction. None of the dates, although some of the circumstances, overlapping with those authoritatively given above: 1845, 1878 and 1893.


While missing

A possible record of the species from the South Island in 1910 exists (Cumming, 1953). Matheson (1940) writes: "Circumstantial reports of two birds, one larger than the other, come from the Milford Track, but so far they lack confirmation".



It was then rediscovered on 20 November, 1948



South Island (historically) and North Island (prehistorically), both New Zealand


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Meyer, A. B. (1883). [description of Porphyrio hochstetteri]. Abbild. Vog. Skelett., Lief 4 and 5, p. 28, pls. 34-37.


Other references:

Anonymous. (1948). Rediscovering the takahē. Listener 494: 6.

Anon.: "Illustrated London News," 15th October, 1949.

Anon.: "Illustrated London News,', 27th May, 1950.

Anon.: "Illustrated London News," 15th July, 1950 (coloured illustrations).

Anonymous. (1964). List of rare birds, including those thought to be so but of which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 10(Special Supplement): 4 pp.

Atkinson, I.A.E.; Millener, P.R. 1991: An ornithological glimpse into New Zealand’s pre-human past. Pp. 129–192 in: Acta XX Congressus Internationalis Ornithologici. [relevant citation?]

Baber, M.J. 1996: Offshore islands and management of the takahe—can islands support a viable population? Unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland.

Baber, M. J. and Craig, J. L. (2003). Home range size and carrying capacity of the South Island takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) on Tiritiri Matangi Island. Notornis 50: 67-74.

Baber, M. J. and Craig, J. L. (2003). The relationship between foraging behaviour and habitat use by South Island takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) on Tiritiri Matangi Island. Notornis 50: 59-66.

Ballance, A. (2001). Takahe: the bird that twice came back from the grave, pp. 18-22. In: Lee, W. G. and Jamieson, I. G. (eds.). The Takahe: Fifty Years of Conservation Management and Research. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.

Bathgate, A. (1899). Minutes; meeting of Otago Institute, 13 September 1898. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 31: 739-40.

Beattie, H. (1945). Maori Lore of Lake. Alp and Fiord.

Beattie, H. (1949). The Maoris and Fiordlaid. Dunedin. 

Beauchamp, A. and Worthy, Trevor H. (1988). The takahe's decline in distribution – a re-examination. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 18: 103-112.

Benham, W. B. (1899a). Notes on the Fourth Skin of Notornis. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 31: 146-150.

Benham, W. B. (1899b). Notes on Certain of the Viscera of Notornis. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 31: 151-156.

Benham, W. B. (1899c). Notes on the Internal Anatomy of Notornis. Proc. Zool. Soc., Lond., pp. 88-96.

BirdLife International. (2013). Porphyrio hochstetteri. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. ( Downloaded on 21 December 2013.

Boast, A. P. (2019). A Holocene fossil South Island takahē ([i]Porphyrio hochstetteri[/i]) in a high-altitude north-west Nelson cave. Notornis 66(1): 34-36.

Boerman, I.; Suselbeek, L. 2007: Takahe breeding behaviour modification on Maud Island. A study to evaluate the effect of Maud Island takahe breeding behaviour modification on chick survival, compared to the effect of the takahe breeding management on Mana, Kapiti and Tiritiri Matangi Islands. Unpublished placement report, in partial fulfilment of Bachelor of Science in Animal Management, Van Hall Larenstein, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Report held at Te Anau Area Office, Southland Conservancy, Department of Conservation, Te Anau.

Buller, W. L. (1873). A History of the Birds of New Zealand (1st ed.). London.

Buller, W. L. (1881). Notornis hochstetteri of South Island. Trans. and Proc. New Zealand Inst. 14: 243.

Buller, W. L. (1882). On the Notornis. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 14, 238-244. Discussion 533-4.

Buller, W. L. (1888). A History of the Birds of New Zealand (2nd ed.). London.

Buller, W. L. (1899). On the Ornithology of New Zealand. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 31, 1-37.

Buller, W. L. (1905). Supplement to Birds of New Zealand. London. 

Bunin, J. S. and Jamieson, I. G. (1995). New approaches toward a better understanding of the decline of Takahe (Porphyrio mantelli) in New Zealand. Conservation Biology 9(1): 100-106.

Bunin, J. S. and Jamieson, I. G. (1996). A cross-fostering experiment between the endangered Takahe Porphyrio mantelli and its closest relative, the Pukeko P. porphyrio. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 20: 207-213.

Bunin, J. S., Jamieson, I. G. and Eason, D. (1997). Low reproductive success of the endangered Takahe Porphyrio mantelli on offshore island refuges in New Zealand. Ibis 139: 144-151.

Burns, B.; Innes, J.; Day, T. 2012. The use and potential of pest-proof fencing for ecosystem restoration and fauna conservation in New Zealand. Pp 65-90 in Hayward, M.W. & Somers, M.J. (eds), Fencing for conservation. New York, Springer.

M. Burton: "Illustrated London News," 11th Dlecember, 1948.

Clout, M. N. and Craig, J. L. (1995). The conservation of critically endangered flightless birds in New Zealand. Ibis 137(s1): S181-S190. [Abstract]

Crouchley, D. 1994. Takahe Recovery Plan (Porphyrio [Notornis] Mantelli). Wellington: Department of Conservation.

Crouchley, D.; Hill, S.; Willans, M. 2006: Takahe Programme Annual Report—01 June 2004 to 31 May 2005. Unpublished report, Te Anau Area Office, Southland Conservancy, Department of Conservation, Te Anau.

Cumming, W. A. (1953). Notornis reported seen in 1910. Notornis 5(3): 83-84.

Dawson, N. 1994: The behavioural ecology and management of the takahe. Unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland.

Department of Conservation. (1997). Review of Takahe management on mainland New Zealand.

Duff, Roger. (1951). Recent Maori Occupation of Notornis Valley, Te Anau. Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. 64 No. 1, March, 1951.

Eason, D.K. 1992: Takahe, Notornis mantelli: artificial incubation of eggs and methods to determine sex. University of Otago Wildlife Management Report Number 29. University of Otago, Dunedin.

Eason, D. K. and Willans, M. (2001). Captive rearing: a management tool for the recovery of the endangered Takahe. In: Lee, W.G.; Jamieson, I.G. (ed.), The Takahe: 50 years of conservation management and research, pp. 80-95. Otago University Press, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Falla, R. A. (1948). The Re-discovery of the Takahe. New Zealand Science Review, 16, 123-124.

Falla, R. A. (1949). Notornis rediscovered. Emu 48: 316-322.

Falla, R. A. (1951). Nesting season of Notornis. Notornis 4(5): 97-100.

Fitzpatrick, J.W. 2001. Forward. In Lee, W.G. & Jamieson, I.G. (eds) The Takahe: Fifty Years of Conservation Management and Research: 9-10. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.

Fleming, C. A. (1951). Notornis in February, 1950. Notornis 4(5): 101-106.

Forbes, H. O. (1892). Preliminary Notice of Additions to the Extinct Avifauna of New Zealand. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 24, 185-1819.

Forbes, H. O. (1923). The Ralline Genus [i]Notornis[/i]. Nature 112: 762.

Godfrey, J.D.; Bryant, D.M. 2003: Effects of radio transmitters on energy expenditure of takahe. Pp. 69–81 in Williams, M. (Comp.): Conservation applications of measuring energy expenditure of New Zealand birds: assessing habitat quality and costs of carrying transmitters. Science for Conservation 214. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Godfrey, J. D., Bryant, D. M. and Williams, M. J. (2003). Radio-telemetry increases free-living energy costs in the endangered Takahe Porphyrio mantelli. Biological Conservation 114: 35-38.

Gould, J. (1850). Remarks on Notornis Mantew. Proc. Zool. Soc., Lond., pt. Id, 212-214 (with col. pl.); and 1851, Trans. Zool. Soc., Lond., 4, 73-74, (with col. pl.).

Gould, J. (1851). The Birds of Australia, Supplement; Part 1 (with col. pl.).

Grange, Z. L. (2015). Ecology, epidemiology and evolution of enteric microbes in fragmented populations of the endangered takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri). Thesis, Massey University, New Zealand. 185 pp.

Grange, Z. L. et al. (2014). Network analysis of translocated takahe populations to identify disease surveillance targets. Conservation Biology 28: 518-528.

Greaves, G. (2007). Species re-introduction as a tool for the conservation of Takahe, New Zealand. Re-introduction News: 16-17.

Greaves, G., Wickes, C. & Joice, N. 2008. Takahe programme annual report 1 June 2007–30 June 2008. New Zealand Department of Conservation, Te Anau.

Grueber, Catherine E. (2005). Pedigree and microsatellite analysis of genetic diversity in the endangered New Zealand takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri). M.Sc. thesis, University of Otago, Dunedin. 117 pp.

Grueber, Catherine E. and Jamieson, Ian G. (2006). Are the island populations of takahe showing signs of reaching carrying capacity? Unpublished report prepared for Te Anau Area, Southland Conservancy, Department of Conservation. Held at Te Anau Area Office. 7 pp.

Grueber, Catherine E. and Jamieson, Ian G. (2008). Quantifying and managing the loss of genetic variation in a free-ranging population of takahe through the use of pedigrees. Conservation Genetics 9: 645-651.

Grueber, Catherine E. and Jamieson, Ian G. (2011). Low genetic diversity and small population size of Takahe [i]Porphyrio hochstetteri[/i] on European arrival in New Zealand. Ibis 153: 384-394.

Grueber, C.E., King, T.M., Waters, J.M. & Jamieson, I.G. 2008. Isolation and characterisation of microsatellite loci from the endangered New Zealand Takahe (Gruiformes; Rallidae; Porphyrio hochstetteri). Mol. Ecol. Resour. 8: 884–886.

Grueber, C. E.; Laws, R. J.; Nakagawa, S.; Jamieson, I. G. 2010. Inbreeding depression accumulation across life-history stages of the Endangered Takahee. Conservation Biology 24(6): 1617-1625.

Gurr, L. (1951). Food of the chick of Notornis hochstetteri. Notornis 4(5): 114.

Gurr, L. 1952. A skeleton of Notornis hochstetteri Mayer from Waitati, Otago, and notes on distribution of the bird in the South Island, New Zealand. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 80: 19-21.

Peter W. Hadden , An E. Pas , Stephanie B. Cassidy & William C. Ober. (2020). The eye of the takahe, Porphyrio hochstetteri. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, DOI: 10.1080/03014223.2020.1792945

Hall-Jones, John. (1960). Rare Fiordland birds. Notornis 8(7): 191-192.

Hamilton, A. (1899). On the Distribution of Notornis and General Notes on the . Genus. Proc. N.Z. Inst., 31, 739-740. (Abstract and discussion.) 

Harper, A. G. (1951). Protection of Notornis. Notornis 4(5): 118.

Hegg, D. 2006: Evaluating the effectiveness of the Murchison Mountains stoat trapping programme: a preliminary assessment, 2002–2005. Wildlife management report 196. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, Dunedin.

Hegg, D. et al. (2012). Demography of takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) in Fiordland: environmental and management affect survival and breeding success. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36: 75-89.

Henry, R. (1899). On the Probable Origin of Notornis mantelli and its Extinction in New Zealand. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 32, 53-54. 

Iredale, Tom. (1924). As extinct as the Dodo. The Australian Museum Magazine 2(4): 117-120.

Jamieson, I.G. 2003: No evidence that dietary nutrient deficiency is related to poor reproductive success of translocated takahe. Biological Conservation 115: 165-170.

Jamieson, I.G. 2011. Founder effects, inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity in four avian reintroduction programmes. Conservation Biology 25: 115-123.

Jamieson, I.G.; Easton, H.S. 2002: Does a toxic fungal endophyte of tall fescue affect reproduction of takahe on offshore islands? DOC Science Internal Series 89. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 9 pp.

Jamieson, I.; Lee, W.; Maxwell, J. 2000. Fifty years of conservation management and re-introductions of the takahe in New Zealand. Re-introduction News 19: 30-32.

Jamieson, I. G., Roy, M. S. and Lettink, M. (2003). Sex-specific consequences of recent inbreeding in an ancestrally inbred population of New Zealand Takahe. Conservation Biology 17: 708-716.

Jamieson, I. G. and Ryan, C. J. (1999). Causes if low reproductive success of translocated takahe ([i]Porphyrio hochstetteri[/i]) on predator free islands. Science for Conservation. Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

Jamieson, I.G.; Ryan, C.J. 2000: Increased egg infertility associated with translocating inbred takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) to island refuges in New Zealand. Biological Conservation 94: 107-114.

Jamieson, I.G.; Ryan, C.J. 2001: Island takahe: closure of the debate over the merits of introducing Fiordland takahe to predator-free islands. Pp. 96–113 in Lee, W.G.; Jamieson I.G. (Eds): The takahe—fifty years of conservation management and research. University of Otago Press, Dunedin.

Jamieson, I.G.; Wilson, G.C. 2003a: Immediate and long-term effects of translocations on breeding success in takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri. Bird Conservation International 13: 299–306.

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Kean, R. I. (1956). Notornis faeces as evidence on foods as a factor in chick rearing success. Notornis 6(8): 229-240.

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Lavers, Roger and Mills, Jim. (1984). Takahe. Dunedin: John McIndoe & New Zealand Wildlife Service. 24 pp.

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Lee, W. G. and Jamieson, I. G. (eds.). (2001). The Takahe: Fifty Years of Conservation Management and Research. Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand: University of Otago Press, Dunedin.

Lettink, Marieke, Jamieson, Ian G., Millar, Craig D. and Lambert, David M. (2003). Mating system and genetic variation in the endangered New Zealand takahe. Conservation Genetics 3(4): 427-434.

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Mackay, D.-1867-Letter in Ibis, p. 144.

Mantell, G. A. (1850). Notice of the Discovery by Mr. Walter Mantell, in the Middle Island of New Zealand, of a living specimen of the Notornis, a bird of the rail family, allied to Brachypteryx, and hitherto unknown to naturalists except in a fossil state. Proc. Zool. Soc.. Lond. pt. 18. 209-212.

Mantell, G. A. (1851a). [Title?]. Trans. Zool. Soc., Lond., 4: 69-73.

Mantell, G. A. (1851b). Petrifactions and their Teachings, pp. 124-128. London.

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Matheson, D. (1940). Possible existence of the Takahea ([i]Notornis hochstetteri[/i]). Reports and Bulletins (1939-1942) of ornithological Society of New Zealand 1(1): 33.

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Press report, "Evening Post," Wellington, 1st December, 1937.

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J. H. Sorensen '(New Zealand Listener," 14th and 22nd A.pril, 1949

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Williams, G. R. (1952). Notornis in March, 1951. A report of the sixth expedition. Notornis 4(8): 202-208.

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Williams, G. R. (1955). Summary of takahe investigations for 1953-54 study season. Notornis 6(4): 112-114. 

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Worthy, T. H. and Holdaway, R. N. (1994). Quaternary fossil faunas from caves in Takaka Valley and on Takaka Hill, northwest Nelson, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of The Royal Society of New Zealand 24(3): 297-391.

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