Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • The takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) is an endangered species and classed as nationally vulnerable under the New Zealand Threat Classification System. The takahē is a flightless bird found only in New Zealand. It was presumed extinct in 1898 but rediscovered by Dr Geoffrey Orbell and his team in a remote valley in the Murchison Mountains in 1948.

    Rights: Sam Haultain

    Takahē in tussock

    Wild takahē populations live among the snow tussocks of Fiordland’s isolated Murchison Mountains. Takahē have adaptations that mean they can survive in harsh conditions.

    The takahē is one of our unique native species and has been a focus of conservation efforts for over 65 years, resulting in the development of world-recognised conservation techniques. As such, the takahē is a species that offers a fantastic context for learning about key biological concepts.

    This article introduces ZEALANDIA resources, Hub resources and planning pathways using takahē resources.

    ZEALANDIA resources to support AS91158

    ZEALANDIA has produced a wide range of resources that support teaching and learning about takahē and the conservation efforts by the Department of Conservation’s Takahē Recovery Programme. Many provide opportunities to practise the science capabilities ‘Use and critique evidence’ and ‘Interpret representations’.

    The resources produced in collaboration with the Takahē Recovery Programme are focused on senior biology and specifically designed for learning towards Achievement Standard 91158 Investigate a pattern in an ecological community with supervision. However, they also contain information and templates that will be useful for a younger audience.

    The ZEALANDIA resources below are in a downloadable PDF format.

    Teacher resources

    Where have all the takahē gone? – slideshow

    This slideshow contains some wonderful information about takahē. It also supports learning about community studies for the Biology Achievement Standard 91158.


    1. Biodiversity in New Zealand This worksheet supports students’ understanding of New Zealand's biodiversity. It highlights biological definitions, predator-prey relationships, flightlessness and the impact of humans.
    2. Takahē at ZEALANDIA This worksheet supports students when they visit ZEALANDIA to find out more about takahē. It also could be used when visiting any sanctuary that has takahē.
    3. Interrelationships in the Murchison Mountains community This worksheet explores concepts of population modelling by supporting students to interpret trends in predator/prey and population graphs.
    4. Takahē Recovery Plan 2007 to 2012 This worksheet helps students interpret information from the 2007–2012 Takahē Recovery Plan.
    5. The demography of takahē This worksheet uses the article Demography of takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) in Fiordland: environmental factors and management affect survival and breeding success by Hegg et al. and the Stuff article Stoats decimating takahe in Fiordland to explore challenges faced by takahē.
    6. Stoats and takahē This worksheet uses information from the Stuff article Stoats decimating takahē in Fiordland, the map in Sightings of takahē in Fiordland (1987–2008) and the graphs in Takahē adult survival in the Murchison Mountains in both trapped and untrapped areas to look at interrelationships between stoats and takahē.
    7. Interspecific relationships impacting takahē This worksheet supports students to record and sort information about interspecific relationships impacting takahē.
    8. Takahē video review template This worksheet supports students to record and sort ideas while watching the video documentary Project Takahē.
    9. Milestone checkpoints for AS91158 A checklist and list of resources for students working towards AS91158.
    10. Final help sheet for AS91158 An in-depth help sheet with notes for students working towards AS91158.
    11. Resource dot jot sheets for evaluating research This is a generic worksheet for recording and evaluating information from sources like newspapers or websites.
    12. Evaluating data recording sheets This worksheet is for recording source information, explaining data and recording ideas from others.

    Thinking tools

    1. Ecological niche photos These photos of a red deer, stoat, snow tussock and takahē can be used alongside the Ecological niches visual organiser.
    2. Ecological niches visual organiser worksheet This template is an ideas organiser to consider habitat and ecological niches of red deer, stoat, snow tussock and takahē.
    3. Compare and contrast takahē vs pūkeko visual organiser This template is an ideas organiser to examine similarities and differences between pūkeko and takahē.
    4. Compare and contrast Murchison Mountains vs offshore islands visual organiser This template is an ideas organiser to examine similarities and differences between Murchison Mountains and offshore islands.
    5. Adaptations visual organiser This template is an ideas organiser to consider adaptations of red deer, stoat, snow tussock and takahē.
    6. Interrelationships in the Murchison Mountains visual organiser This template is an ideas organiser to consider the interrelationships between the takahē, stoat and red deer.
    7. Management options for the continued survival of takahē – advantages, disadvantages table/worksheet This template is an ideas organiser to consider the advantages and disadvantages of various management options for takahē.
    8. The ecological niche – takahē/habitat/adaptations information sheet This information sheet summarises key considerations related to a habitat’s physical conditions and resources and an organism’s adaptations and interrelationships with other organisms.

    Data appendices – information for AS91158

    1. Prehistoric distribution of takahē – map
    2. Sightings of takahē in Fiordland (1987–2008) – map
    3. Takahē population trends (1981–2008) – line graph/Murchison/offshore islands
    4. Impact of temperature on adult takahē (1981–1994) – line graph
    5. Impact of deer culling operations in the Murchison Mountains (1963–2008) – line graph
    6. Stoat and rat trap kills (2003–2018) – line graphs
    7. Latest takahē population trends (2000–2017) – line graphs sanctuary/Fiordland
    8. Takahē population growth rate (2000–2016) – line graph
    9. Takahē population recruitment versus mortality (2006–2017) – line graph
    10. Takahē census results – Murchison Mountains 2014 – map
    11. Deer kills and helicopter hunting tracks in the Murchison Mountains – map
    12. Murchison Mountains stoat traps 2019 – map
    13. Stoat and rat trap kills (2006–2016) – line graph
    14. Relationship between the mean temperature and flowering in Chionochloa spp (masting and global warming) – bar graph
    15. Effect of climate change on masting Chionochloa (climate change/masting) – graphs on temperature and flowering
    16. Additional data from Takahē Recovery Programme (DOC) annual report 2017-18 – graph and tables
    17. Takahē adult survival in trapped and untrapped areas in the Murchison Mountains – graphs and table

    Hub resources

    The Hub has a suite of resources about takahē and the efforts to conserve them:

    Takahē – new genetic research in 2023 has shed new light on the evolutionary history of the takahē and uncovered the significant impact of humans and past climate change on this icnoic species.

    Conserving native birds – introduction curates Hub resources about native bird conservation, their roles in ecosystems, adaptations and more!

    Building Science Concepts: Birds explores the science concepts that underpin knowledge and understanding about birds and their structure, function and adaptations.

    To consider some of the ethical dilemmas associated with conservation, see

    Bringing back the birdsong is a Connected journal article with teacher support material published by the Ministry of Education.

    Planning pathways using takahē resources

    This interactive groups Hub and ZEALANDIA resources into key science and teaching concepts that underpin takahē conservation.

    Planning pathways using takahē resources

    These interactive resources are all about takahē as well as supporting year 12 biology assessment AS91158.

    Related collections

    The Science Learning Hub team has curated two collections of resources with takahē as the context for learning:

    Login to make this collection part of your private collection, just click on the copy icon. You can then add additional content, notes and make other changes. Registering an account for the Science Learning Hubs is easy and free – sign up with your email address or Google account. Look for the Sign up button at the top of each page.

    Related content

    Bringing back the birdsong and What Alice saw are Connected journal articles with teacher support materials published by the Ministry of Education.

    Useful links

    TKI uses the book Takahē: Back from the Brink to explore the science capability ‘Use evidence to support ideas’. The book is part of the Applications series, and copies may be available in New Zealand secondary schools. If not, check the book’s availability via Down the Back of the Chair or the National Library.

    Rights: Takahē Recovery and ZEALANDIA ecosanctuary

    ZEALANDIA and the Takahē Recovery Programme collaboration

    Urban ecosanctuary ZEALANDIA in collaboration with the Takahē Recovery Programme has produced a comprehensive set of teaching resources designed to support Biology Achievement Standard 91158. Many of the materials can also be used as stand-alone resources for learning about takahē biology and conservation. Links to the takahē ZEALANDIA resources can be found in the article Takahē – a context for learning and the interactive Planning pathways using takahē resources.

      Published 11 February 2019, Updated 15 December 2023 Referencing Hub articles
          Go to full glossary
          Download all