Named during a competition by Kate Hutchison, Morehu means “survivor” – referring to the remarkable survival of kākāpō chicks in 1999.
The name was also appropriate for this chick which struggled to survive in the beginning. He is the only offspring of Sandra, who laid the egg on Pearl Island whilst birds were managed there during the rat eradication operation on Codfish Island (Whenua Hou). The egg was translocated to Te Anau to be hatched and hand-raised. This kept the egg safe from rats and weka that are found on Pearl Island and that eat kākāpō chicks and eggs.
It was discovered a day after hatching that Morehu had an internal blockage, which did eventually clear. But for his first week he had to hang on to life without growing. Ten days after he recovered from that, the incubator he was being kept in malfunctioned. His growth was halted again but he tenaciously hung on to life for the next two weeks, with the help of concerned staff. Quite stunted, he was a quarter the size of other chicks his age and was nick-named “Bonsai”. But he seemed to have a lot of energy and was always eager to feed. Eventually the decision was made to put him on a course of steroids and his growth shot away in bursts.
Today Morehu lives on Anchor Island where he can’t be distinguished in size from any other kākāpō, and he even practised booming in January 2007. From time to time, Morehu remembers his early contact with people, and is happy to visit staff when the mood strikes him.