Hoki is a bird that provided humans with a good introduction to the private world of kākāpō.
Hatched on Codfish Island (Whenua Hou) in 1992 to Zephyr, she was the first kākāpō to be partially raised in captivity and provided humans with a special opportunity to get to know the habits and behaviour of her species. When, at the age of five weeks, natural food supplies failed and Hoki would have starved to death, she was taken from a nest and hand-raised at Auckland Zoo.
By watching her grow up on Maud Island, staff soon learnt just how intelligent and entertaining kākāpō can be. She used to create her own amusements, such as springing up and down on branches, and would often play with the zippers and buttons of human clothing.
She also gave insights into kākāpō biology and development, as staff watched her during her first five years in captivity, learning to call and display as she would do in the wild.
Hoki now lives on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) where she has a reputation as being a bit bad-tempered with humans – perhaps because she got used to having things her own way for so long while in captivity. She will wriggle and grumble and bite while being held, and generally makes a big fuss when things are not going her way.
Hoki is occassionally a real treat for many supplementary feedout volunteers, as she sometimes comes straight out to feed from her hopper, whilst volunteers are still close-by. Staff that have handled her in the past weren’t privy to such an encounter though – she would dash back into the vegetation on recognising them.
During the 2002 breeding season, Hoki bred for the first time and laid one egg, which died early in incubation. She was given a fostered egg to care for instead and, with a little help from her human friends, successfully raised a healthy chick, Al. It was a tentative start for the first-time mother, but staff hope she will have learnt from the experience and will grow up to be a successful and productive kākāpō.
She did not breed in 2005 or 2008.
In 2009 she laid a single infertile egg. Once again she was given the opportunity to foster, and looked after two of Hananui’s chicks for a short period of time before they were collected for hand-rearing (due to the failure of Rimu fruit ripening).