When it comes to unique birds, the kākāpō is a winner. Weighing in as the heaviest parrot in the world and with the ability to live up to 90 years old, they make for a pretty fascinating bird. Wondering alone at night and sleeping through the daylight hours, the kākāpō is a 'midnight rambler'.
There are over 7 billion people on Earth - but less than 160 kākāpō. Like many NZ natives, the kākāpō cannot fly away from predators. Instead, they freeze at any disturbance and seek to blend into the bush behind them. Unfortunately, this only fooled their original, airborne predators, not the mammals responsible for their decline. They were first preyed on by Polynesian settlers and their dogs as an easy catch. Then the Europeans (with their appetite and introduced pests) came. Numbers dropped rapidly. By the late 1800s, the kākāpō were in critical danger. By the 1970s, there were thought to be just 18 left.
Thankfully for these beautiful big birds, a small group of Department of Conservation folk dedicated themselves to their wellbeing. The Kakapo Recovery Trust began in the late '70s and work tirelessly to protect, manage and grow the kākāpō population. Helped by volunteers and the support of kind-hearted folk, staff work year round ensuring the birds are safe, healthy and well fed. Thanks to these efforts, the kākāpō numbers are on the (slow) rise.
Last year, on a week away, we headed out with Real Journeys to explore Doubtful Sound in Fiordland. The fantastic trip was highlighted by a talk by passionate birdie, Kailtyn Hamilton, who took the time to tell us all about the kākāpō. Inspired by her passion (and the chubby and characterful parrots themselves!), we set about to create a new cause artwork. Cue: a laser-etched and hand-painted series of kākāpō skateboards by our co-founder, Indigo Greenlaw.
Each of our kākāpō artworks is numbered and paired with the name of a real, living counterpart. So far, we are 15/152 in, painted on a mix of maple, recycled rimu and locally grown macrocarpa boards. A donation from each is given to the Kākāpō Recovery Trust in support of their good work. Hop on board by donating to the trust, adopting a kākāpō or taking one of these home with you.