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New edition of Checklist

June 7th, 2022

A new edition of the ‘Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand’ was published by Birds New Zealand this week. For the first time in the 69-year history of these checklists, it is digital-only, published as both web-pages and a pdf (links provided below). The checklist provides the bird names and structure used for the popular New Zealand Birds Online website, which has been updated to match the new checklist.

Compared to the previous (2010) edition, the new checklist gives much greater prominence to Māori bird names. The names used in the checklist are derived from a database of 2,515 Māori and Moriori bird names, compiled by Checklist Committee convenor (and NZ Birds Online editor) Dr Colin Miskelly. Dr Miskelly explained that a major motivation for his research was feedback sent to the NZ Birds Online website. “By far the main criticism received was that we didn’t give enough prominence to Māori names for the birds of Aotearoa. And I agreed with them. As the names on the website were based on those in the 2010 checklist, we decided that the best approach was to update the checklist, so that users of the website could look deeper into why each name was selected.”

  Kererū or New Zealand pigeon?                   Image: Ormond Torr, New Zealand Birds Online

Many birds have multiple Māori names, as different names may have been given to different life stages, as well as different iwi having their own names for the same species. The Māori bird names presented in the main part of the checklist reflect the Māori bird names that have been used most often in the scientific literature. “This is a different question from what is the most appropriate Māori name to use for each species” said Birds New Zealand president Bruce McKinlay. “I am delighted to see Māori bird names featuring so prominently in the new checklist, and hope that matauranga Māori scholars and iwi will use this new database as a resource to advance their own research into the names that have and should be used for these taonga.”

Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand weblinks
Checklist (webpages) –
Full Checklist (pdf) –
Appendix 3 – Alternative names for NZ birds (webpages) –
Appendix 3 – Alternative names for NZ birds (pdf) –|
Full database of alternative names for NZ birds (Excel spreadsheet) –

Contacts for further information or interviews
Dr Colin Miskelly (Bird Curator, Te Papa) – Checklist Committee convener, and New Zealand Birds Online editor –  021 805 231
Bruce McKinlay – Birds New Zealand President –  027 389 1477

Featured image:  Great spotted kiwi, Matthias Dehling, New Zealand Birds Online