Porphyrio mantelli (Owen, 1848:347)

North Island takahe, mohoau, mōho/moho (Māori)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Notornis Mantelli Owen, 1848: Trans. Zool. Soc. London 3(5): 347, pl. 56, figs 7–13 – Waingongoro River, Taranaki.; Notornis mantelli mantelli Owen, 1848:347; Notomis mantelli Owen, 1848:347 [orth. error; used by Scott, 1965]; Porphyrio mantelli mantelli (Owen); Checklist Committee 1990, Checklist Birds N.Z.: 124.; Notornis parkeri Forbes, 1892:185


Conservation Status


Last record: Holocene (fossils); 1894 (possible historical record) (Phillipps, 1959)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


Although this species is only known from subfossil remains, there exists a possible historical record of this species from 1894 (Phillipps, 1959). Alternatively, this may refer to P. hochstetteri, as the living Takahe is also known to have inhabited New Zealand's North Island in the past as well.



North Island, New Zealand


Biology & Ecology







Above: Moho. Porphyrio mantelli. From the series: Extinct Birds of New Zealand., 2004, Masterton, by Paul Martinson. Purchased 2006. © Te Papa. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (2006-0010-1/48)



Original scientific description:

Owen, Richard. (1848). On Dinornis (Part III): Containing a description of the skull and beak of that genus, and of the same characteristic parts of Palapteryx, and of two other genera of birds, Notornis and Nestor; forming part of an extensive series or ornithic remains discovered by Mr. Walter mantell at Waingongoro, North Island of New Zealand. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 3: 345-378.


Other references:

Beauchamp, A. J.; Worthy, T. H. 1988. Forum on the decline and conservation of the Takahe. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 18: 103-118.

BirdLife International. (2012). Porphyrio mantelli. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 26 May 2013.

BirdLife International. 2016. Porphyrio mantelli. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22728833A94998264. Downloaded on 27 June 2021.

Brooks, T. 2000. Extinct species. In: BirdLife International (ed.), Threatened Birds of the World, pp. 701-708. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge, U.K.

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: 100-106.

Checklist Committee (OSNZ). (2010). Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica (4th ed.). Ornithological Society of New Zealand & Te Papa Press, Wellington. [p. 188, 357]

Checklist Committee (OSNZ). (2022). Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand (5th edition). Ornithological Society of New Zealand Occasional Publication No. 1. Wellington: Ornithological Society of New Zealand. [p. 61]

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

Forbes, Henry Ogg. (1892). Preliminary notice of additions to the extinct avifauna of New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 24: 185-189.

Greenway, J. C. (1967). Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. New York: Dover Publications.

Holdaway, Richard N., Worthy, Trevor H. and Tennyson, Alan J. D. (2001). A working list of breeding bird species of the New Zealand region at first human contact. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 28: 119-187.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser.

Livezey, Bradley C. (1998). A phylogenetic analysis of the Gruiformes (Aves) based on morphological characters, with an emphasis on the rails (Rallidae). Phil.Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 353: 2077-2151.

Medway, David G. (1967). Avian remains from new caves in Taumatamaire district. Notornis 14(3): 158-160.

Medway, David G. (1971). Sub-fossil avian remains from the Awakino - Mahoenui area. Notornis 18(3): 218-219.

Meyer, A.B. 1879–97. Abbildungen von Vogel-Skeletten. Herausgegeben mit Unterstutzung der Generaldirection der Königl. Sammlungen für Kunst und Wissenschaft in Dresden. Berlin and Dresden: R. Friendander & Sohn. Volume 1: xiv + 71 pp., 120 pls; Volume 2: xxi + 120 pp., 122 pls.

Mills, J. A.; Lavers, R. B.; Lee, W. G. 1984. The Takahe -- a relict of the Pleistocene grassland avifauna of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 7: 57-70.

Oliver, W. R. B. (1930). New Zealand Birds. Wellington: Whitcombe & Tombs.

Owen, Richard. (1870). On Dinornis (Part XV): Containing a description of the skull, femur, tibia, fibula, and metatarsus of Aptornis defossor, Owen, from near Oamuru, Middle Island, New Zealand; with additional observations on Aptornis otidiformis, on Notornis mantelli, and on Dinornis curtus. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 7: 353-380.

Paulin, C. D. (1973). Sub-fossil avian remains from two limestone caves in North Taranaki. Mauri Ora 1: 95-98.

Phillipps, W. J. (1959). The last (?) occurrence of Notornis in the North Island. Notornis 8(4): 93-94.

Robertson, H. A., Baird, K. A., Elliott, G. P., Hitchmough, R. A., McArthur, N. J., Makan, T. D., Miskelly, Colin M., O’Donnell, C. F. J., Sagar, P. M., Scofield, R. P., Taylor, G. A. and Michel, P. (2021). Conservation status of birds in Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 36. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 43 pp.

Hugh Robertson, John Dowding, Graeme Elliott, Rod Hitchmough, Colin Miskelly, Colin O’Donnell, Ralph Powlesland, Paul Sagar, Paul Scofield, Graeme Taylor. (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 4. 22 pp.

Rothschild, Lionel Walter. (1907). Extinct birds: an attempt to write in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times, that is within the last six or seven hundred years: to which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction. London: Hutchinson & Co. XXIX + 243 pp. [p. 141]

Scott, Peter (ed.). (1965). Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds, pp. 155-237. In: The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964. London: Collins.

Tennyson, Alan J. D. and Martinson, Paul. (2006). Extinct Birds of New Zealand. Wellington: Te Papa Press. vi + 180 pp.

Tennyson, A.J.D. & Martinson, P. 2007. Extinct birds of New Zealand, rev. edn. Wellington: Te Papa Press. vi + 180 pp.

Trewick, S. A. (1996). Morphology and evolution of two Takahe: flightless rails of New Zealand. Journal of Zoology (London) 238(2): 221-237. [Abstract]

Trewick, S. A. (1997). Flightlessness and phylogeny amongst endemic rails (Aves: Rallidae) of the New Zealand region. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London B 352: 429-446.

Trewick, S.A. & Worthy, T.H. 2001. Origins and prehistoric ecology of takahe based on morphometric, molecular, and fossil data. Pp. 31–48. Chapter 4. In: Lee, W.G. & Jamieson, I.G. (Eds). The takahe: fifty years of conservation and research. 132 pp.

Tyrberg, Tommy. (2009). Holocene avian extinctions, pp. 63-106. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.

Williams, G. R. (1960). The Takahe (Notornis mantelli Owen, 1848): a general survey. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 88: 235-258.

Williams, G. R. (1962). Extinction and the land and freshwater-inhabiting birds of New Zealand. Notornis 10(1): 15-32.

Worthy, Trevor H. (2000). Two late-Glacial avifaunas from eastern North Island - Te Aute and Wheturau Quarry. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 30(1): 1-26.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (2000). Terrestrial fossil vertebrate faunas from inland Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand. Part 1. Records of the Canterbury Museum 14: 89-154.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (2002). The Lost World of the Moa: Prehistoric Life of New Zealand. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. xxxiii + 718 pp.

Wragg, Graham M. (1981). The birds of Canterbury: history and present status. A dissertation presented as a requirement for the Diploma in Parks and Recreation (National Parks option). Lincoln College, New Zealand.


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