Girl saves the life of a kukupa fledgling

Friday June 07, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Reva Hunter found the kukupa chick in the family driveway. 19060656 Reva Hunter found the kukupa chick in the family driveway. 19060656

Cook Islands’ most colourful native bird, the kukupa, will always be held close to the hearts of the Rarotonga and Atiu communities – and one young Rarotonga girl has proved it.


Ten-year old Reva Hunter this week saved the life of a fledgling kukupa.

The schoolgirl’s mother, Serena Hunter, says Reva found the small bird on their driveway. The family could not find its parents.

“We tried to feed it but it wasn’t eating,” Serena Hunter says.

Worried it would not survive alone, they kept it overnight and in the morning they took the tiny chick to the Discover marine and wildlife centre. There, they knew it could be cared for.

The children who brought in the kukupa have named it Coco.

Wildlife centre owner Stephanie Jansen says the kukupa fledgling still needs its parents. She is glad they found it, because chicks left alone are likely to be killed by myna birds and cats.

Jansen says it’s great to see the community looking out for the wildlife in Rarotonga.

She has been feeding the chick pawpaw and palm fruit.

According to the Cook Islands biodiversity database, the kukupa (Cook Islands fruit-dove) lives only on the islands of Rarotonga and Atiu, making it a two-island endemic of the Cook Islands.

It is common in the mountain forest of Rarotonga, and in Makatea forest of Atiu.

The police patrol boat Te Kukupa, just returned to the islands after a refit, is named after the bird.

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