• Valley Project

Celebrating the call of the kārearea


Kārearea mural at the entrance to the carpark.

A NEW addition to the Valley Project team, a New Zealand Falcon, or kārearea in Te Reo Māori, can be found enhancing the entrance to the car park on North Road. This beautiful mural, painted by Bruce Mahalski from the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery signifies all of the amazing biodiversity found within the North East Valley and surrounding suburbs. His image is inspired by a photograph by Keith Payne. But, why the kārearea, and why is it so special?


We have heard many stories from local community members remarking on the wonderful and fierce nature of the kārearea, within their own backyards and parks in the area. A pair have been seen over several years around the northern end of the Valley, so we thought why not highlight their beauty and existence with a mural.


Kārearea juvenile. Photo: Shellie. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kārearea are only found in New Zealand (endemic) and are only one of four species of birds of prey that naturally occur here. Like some other endemic birds in New Zealand, kārearea have an “at risk, recovering” conservation status meaning these birds are rare, and are still at risk of going into decline if new threats arise. It’s thought that in the wild there are only about 3,000-5,000 pairs meaning we are quite lucky to have them living here. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to predation from mammalian predators and are threatened by habitat loss.


Kārearea are striking raptors or "birds of prey", flying at speeds over 100km/hr, mostly taking live prey “on the wing” and often larger than themselves. They will sit and watch their prey, and when ready to strike, will directly attack with their sharp talons and powerful beak. Unlike the often-mistaken Swamp Harrier, kārearea often do not feed on carrion (such as road kill) and do not often soar, rather flying with fast wingbeats.


Kārearea in flight. Photo: Gregory Smith. Flickr CC BY 2.0

Kārearea will aggressively defend their nests, or rather a scape in the ground, under a rocky outcrop or in an epiphyte in a tree. They are monogamous, mating for life, displaying courtship rituals every breeding season. They will utter a ‘kek kek kek’ cry when defending their territory. To hear this cry for yourself check out the recording from NZ birds online here.


Their scientific name, Falco novaeseelandiae, derives from the latin for Falcon (Falco) and New Zealand (novaeseelandiae), a rather simple description, as with the English name, for a fantastic bird. If you’re wondering if you’ve seen one before, check out the $20 note, kārearea are featured on the reverse side.


For more information about kārearea, check out the pages on NZ Birds online or on the DOC website, or if you’d like to share your own stories, please do so in the Open VUE Facebook group!


For more information about the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery, check out their website or Facebook page. It really is well worth a visit!

A HUGE Thank you!!


THANK YOU to the team of UniCrew Volunteers from Carrington College and our Weed Warrior team who dealt to A LOT of blackberry and sycamore at Chingford Park this month! The goats were thrilled with the massive haul of fresh kai!


This area is being cleared to make way for planting to rebuild a lovely native habitat. We even created a wee spot to sit and watch the creek. Join us every second and fourth Sunday morning to lend a hand! Please email openvue@northeastvalley.org if you are interested or for more details as Working Bee dates may change due to changing alert levels.



THANK YOU to Grid coffee roasters and Ocho for the generous donation of coffee sacks and cocoa bean sacks for weed matting at the Propagation Nursery!



We have also had some awesome new volunteers come along and take on propagating native plants, watering and weeding at the Propagation Nursery! If you are keen to volunteer, please do be in touch! Working bees are on every Thursday and the fourth Saturday of the month from 10 am - 12 pm, but this may change due to changing alert levels. If you would like more information, please email openvue@northeastvalley.org

Sign up here if you're keen to be a part of our Backyard Ecosanctuaries Programme or drop by and see us any time during the Valley Project opening hours! We are currently facilitating backyard trapping, backyard weeding and planting and community weeding and planting!




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