List of New Zealand species extinct in the Holocene

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Location of the Realm of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean and Antarctica.
A kiore (Polynesian rat), introduced to New Zealand by the Māori.

This is a list of New Zealand species extinct in the Holocene. This list covers extinctions from the Holocene epoch, a geologic epoch that began about 11,650 years before present (about 9700 BCE)[a] and continues to the present day.[1] Species that were thought to be extinct and were rediscovered, called Lazarus taxa, are not covered in this article. Extinct subspecies of living species are also excluded. Locally extinct species (species that disappeared from New Zealand but survive overseas) are also outside of the scope of this article.

New Zealand proper is an independent and sovereign state. New Zealand proper includes the North Island, the South Island, offshore islands, and outlying islands like the Chatham Islands. The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing states in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica). Only New Zealand proper is represented on this list, not the full Realm of New Zealand.

The list below includes a total of:

This should be considered a nearly exhaustive list of the New Zealand vertebrate species that became extinct in the Holocene, although future research could render parts of the list outdated. Two invertebrate species are also listed below. However, this list is less exhaustive because invertebrates are more difficult to survey and are less well studied.

All of these extinctions occurred after the human settlement of New Zealand. New Zealand was among the last places on earth that humans settled.[2] The first settlers of New Zealand migrated from Polynesia and became the Māori people.[3] According to archeological and genetic research, the ancestors of the Māori arrived in New Zealand no earlier than about 1280 CE, with at least the main settlement period between about 1320 and 1350,[4][3] consistent with evidence based on genealogical traditions.[5][6] No credible evidence exists of pre-Māori settlement of New Zealand.[3] The arrival of the Māori resulted in animal extinctions due to deforestation[2] and hunting.[7] The Māori also brought two species of land mammals, Polynesian rats (Rattus exulans) and kurī, a breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris).[2][8] In pre-human times, bats were the only land mammals found in New Zealand.[9] Polynesian rats definitely contributed to extinctions,[2] and kurī might have contributed as well.[10][11] Species that became extinct after Māori settlement but before European settlement are marked as "prehistoric" in the list below.

In 1642, the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman became the first European explorer known to visit New Zealand.[12] In 1769, British explorer James Cook became the first European to map New Zealand and communicate with the Māori.[13][14] From the late 18th century, the country was regularly visited by explorers and other sailors, missionaries, traders and adventurers. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi annexed New Zealand into the British Empire and gave the Māori all of the rights of British citizens, although the exact meaning of the treaty remains controversial today.[15][16][17] As a result of the influx of settlers, the population of Pākehā (European New Zealanders) grew explosively from fewer than 1,000 in 1831 to 500,000 by 1881.[18] Like the Māori settlers centuries earlier, the European settlers hunted native animals and engaged in habitat destruction. They also introduced numerous invasive species.[19] A few examples are black rats (Rattus rattus) and brown rats (Rattus norvegicus),[20] domestic cats (Felis catus),[21] stoats (Mustela erminea),[22] and common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula).[23] Species that became extinct after European settlement are marked as "historic" in the list below. In a few cases, the subfossil record indicates that a species survived into historic times, but no historic observations are known to exist. These species are accompanied by the message, "survived into historic times, although there are no known historic records."

Mammals (class Mammalia)[edit]

Bats (order Chiroptera)[edit]

New Zealand short-tailed bats (family Mystacinidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
New Zealand greater short-tailed bat Mystacina robusta Big South Cape Island and other islands offshore of Stewart Island (historic, possibly extant)[24]

North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[24]

This species is classified as "Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)". Before Polynesian settlement, it was widespread across the North Island and the South Island. it declined following the introduction of Polynesian rats by the Māori. When the Europeans arrived, the species was probably already restricted to small islands off the coast of Stewart Island. The last confirmed sighting was in 1967 on Big South Cape Island. Black rats (Rattus rattus) invaded Big South Cape Island in the 1960s and preyed upon bats. The species might still persist on Big South Cape Island, Putauhinu Island, or other islands offshore of Stewart Island. Recorded calls are reminiscent of Mystacinidae calls. If the species exists, its population is almost certainly less than 50 mature individuals because of the small area of the islands.[24]
New Zealand greater short-tailed bat

Birds (class Aves)[edit]

Moa (order Dinornithiformes)[edit]

Giant moa (family Dinornithidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
North Island giant moa Dinornis novaezealandiae North Island[25] as well as Great Barrier Island[26] in the Hauraki Gulf (prehistoric) Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans for food. Moa chicks may have also been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]."[26]
North Island giant moa
South Island giant moa Dinornis robustus South Island and Stewart Island,[25] as well as D'Urville Island in Cook Strait[28] (prehistoric) Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Giant moa were rapidly hunted to extinction by early [Māori]. Their bones are widespread in middens, and were also shaped into tools and ornaments. Estimates of the number of individual moa remains in 1,200 open ovens and middens surveyed in the vicinity of the Waitaki River mouth during the 1930s range from 29,000 to 90,000. Moa chicks may also have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]. Burning of the giant moa's dry forest and shrubland habitat is also likely to have reduced their numbers."[28]
South Island giant moa

Lesser moa (family Emeidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Bush moa Anomalopteryx didiformis North Island, South Island, Stewart Island (prehistoric)[25] Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans for food. Moa chicks may also have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]."[29]
Bush moa
Eastern moa Emeus crassus South Island (prehistoric)[25] Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans for food. The remains of moa are widespread in middens, along with specialised tools used to cut up carcasses and to work bones into tools. Middens dating from the thirteenth century, surveyed at the Wairau River bar in the Marlborough district, contained remains of more than 4,000 individual moa and large numbers of moa eggs. Eastern moa was the second most abundant species recorded at the site after [broad-billed] moa. Moa chicks may have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]. Burning of the eastern moa's forest and shrubland habitat is also likely to have reduced its numbers."[30]
Eastern moa
Broad-billed moa Euryapteryx curtus North Island, and South Island,[25][b] as well as Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf[31] (prehistoric) Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans. The remains of moa are widespread in middens, along with specialised tools used to cut up carcasses and to work bones into tools. Moa chicks may have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]. Burning of the [broad-billed] moa's forest and shrubland habitats is also likely to have reduced its numbers."[31]
Broad-billed moa
Heavy-footed moa Pachyornis elephantopus South Island, Stewart Island (prehistoric)[25] Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans. Moa chicks may also have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]. Burning of eastern dryland forests and shrublands is likely to have reduced the extent of suitable habitat."[32]
Heavy-footed moa
Mantell's moa Pachyornis geranoides North Island (prehistoric)[25] Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans. Moa chicks may also have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]."[33]
Mantell's moa
Crested moa Pachyornis australis South Island (prehistoric)[25] Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was probably overhunting by humans for food. Crested moa chicks may also have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]."[34]
Crested moa

Upland moa (family Megalapterygidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Upland moa Megalapteryx didinus South Island (prehistoric)[25] Moa were totally extinct by about AD 1500.[27] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans for food. The remains of moa are widespread in middens, along with specialised tools used to cut up moa carcasses and to work bones into tools. Moa chicks may have been killed by the introduced Polynesian dog [kurī]."[35]
Upland moa

Landfowl (order Galliformes)[edit]

Pheasants and allies (family Phasianidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
New Zealand quail Coturnix novaezelandidae North Island and South Island, as well as Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf (historic)[25] Extinct in 1875[36]
New Zealand quail

Waterfowl (order Anseriformes)[edit]

Ducks, geese, and swans (family Anatidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
North Island goose Cnemiornis gracilis North Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Like the various moa species, the North Island goose would have been an easy target for early Polynesian hunters. It became extinct soon after Polynesians arrived."[37]
South Island goose Cnemiornis calcitrans South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Due to their large size and flightlessness, South Island geese were much hunted by early Polynesian settlers. Their remains are widespread in midden deposits. Over-hunting is the most likely cause of their extinction, which occurred long before European[s] arrived in New Zealand."[38]
South Island goose
New Zealand swan Cygnus sumnerensis South Island, Chatham Islands (prehistoric) Judging by the presence of their bones in middens, New Zealand swans were driven to extinction by the first Polynesian settlers before AD 1450 on the mainland and before AD 1650 on the Chatham Islands.[39]
Finsch's duck Chenonetta finschi North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[40] Extinct by the 17th century[40]
Finsch's duck
Chatham duck Anas chathamica Chatham Islands (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The species became extinct prehistorically through hunting. As it was large and flightless, the [Chatham duck] would have been a good food source for the earliest Polynesian settlers on the Chatham Islands."[41]
Scarlett's duck Malacorhynchus scarletti North Island, South Island, Chatham Islands (prehistoric)[42][25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Scarlett’s duck became extinct sometime after Polynesian arrival. It was hunted by [Māori], and its nests were possibly susceptible to predation by [Polynesian] rats."[42]
New Zealand musk duck Biziura delautouri North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The New Zealand musk duck became extinct in prehistoric times, and so no records of live birds exist. One bone was found in a human food midden, and hunting for food by people is the most likely cause of its demise."[43]
New Zealand merganser Mergus australis Auckland Islands, part of the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands (historic);[25]

North Island, South Island, Stewart Island (prehistoric)[25][c]

Extinct primarily due to hunting. Last recorded in 1902.[44]
New Zealand merganser
Chatham merganser Mergus milleneri Chatham Island in the Chatham Islands (prehistoric)[45] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The [Chatham merganser] became extinct in prehistoric times, and so no records of live birds exist. A few bones have been found in human food middens, and hunting for food by people is the most likely cause of the species’ demise."[45]
New Zealand stiff-tailed duck Oxyura vantetsi North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The New Zealand [stiff-tailed] duck became extinct before European contact, and so no records of live birds exist. Hunting for food by humans is the most likely cause of its demise and the South Island bone may have been from a human food midden."[46]

Rails and cranes (order Gruiformes)[edit]

Adzebills (family Aptornithidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
North Island adzebill Aptornis otidiformis North Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The North Island adzebill was extinct before European settlement. The presence of adzebill bones in middens indicates that early Polynesian settlers hunted the species, and this is the most likely cause of the bird’s extinction."[47]
North Island adzebill
South Island adzebill Aptornis defossor South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The South Island adzebill became extinct before European settlement. The presence of adzebill bones in middens indicates that early Polynesian settlers hunted the species, and this is the most likely cause of the bird’s extinction."[48]
South Island adzebill

Rails (family Rallidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Chatham rail Cabalus modestus Chatham Islands (historic)[25] According to the IUCN Red List, "Extinct between 1893 and 1895. It is thought that invasive species are responsible, both through direct predation and habitat modification."[49]
Chatham rail
Dieffenbach's rail Hypotaenidia dieffenbachii Chatham Islands (historic)[25] According to the IUCN Red List, this species was "driven to extinction by the depredations of introduced species. The type material was collected in 1840, and it was Extinct by 1872."[50]
Dieffenbach's rail
Snipe-rail Capellirallus karamu North Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Excavations of a stratified fossil bed at Lake Poukawa, Hawke’s Bay showed that although previously common, snipe-rails were drastically reduced in numbers during the last 1000 years of the records. This decline coincided with [Māori] occupation of New Zealand and the vegetation of the site changing from podocarp forest to bracken and scrub, which suggests fires were lit about that time. The key factor, however, was probably the introduction of the Polynesian rat or kiore which might have attacked the adults but certainly would have destroyed the eggs and chicks of these birds, which were extinct by the time of European settlement."[51]
Snipe-rail
Hawkins's rail Diaphorapteryx hawkinsi Chatham Islands (prehistoric[25] or historic[52]) According to the IUCN Red List, this species "is now Extinct as a result of hunting. It is thought to have persisted until at least 1895 when it was described in a letter."[52]
Hawkins' rail
Hodgens' waterhen Tribonyx hodgenorum North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to the IUCN Red List, "This species likely became Extinct during the 17th century as a result of predation by rats and hunting by human settlers."[53]
New Zealand coot Fulica prisca North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The New Zealand coot became extinct in prehistoric times due to over-hunting by early [Māori]. Its bones are common in two archaeological middens in coastal Marlborough, where some coot bones were shaped into tools."[54]
Chatham coot Fulica chathamensis Chatham Island in the Chatham Islands[25][55] (survived into historic times, although there are no known historic records[55]) According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The Chatham Island coot became extinct in historic times because of over-hunting by man and possibly predation of eggs and chicks by the introduced [Polynesian] rat. Its bones are common in middens as well as natural deposits, indicating that it was frequently taken for food."[55]
Chatham coot
North Island takahē Porphyrio mantelli North Island (historic)[25] According to the IUCN Red List, this species "has been driven Extinct by human-induced habitat changes. There has been only one historical record of the species, in 1894."[56]
North Island takahē

Shorebirds (order Charadriiformes)[edit]

Sandpipers (family Scolopacidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
North Island snipe Coenocorypha barrierensis Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf (historic);[57]

Browns Island in the Hauraki Gulf (historic, reputedly);[57]

North Island (prehistoric)[57]

Known from fossil records across the North Island. It presumably was extirpated from the North Island in the prehistoric era by the introduced Polynesian rat. Historically known only from a single specimen collected on Little Barrier Island in 1870. It appears to have been extirpated there in the 1870s by introduced cats. Another was reputedly shot in 1820 on Browns Island (Motukorea) near Auckland.[57]
North Island snipe
South Island snipe Coenocorypha iredalei Jacky Lee Island and Big South Cape Island offshore of Stewart Island (historic);[58]

Various other islands offshore of Stewart Island (Pukeweka, Solomon, Mokoiti, Herekopare, Mokinui, Kundy, Green / Rukawahakura, and Breaksea / Wharepuiataha) (historic, reputedly);[58]

Dusky Sound in Fiordland (possible historic record);[58]

South Island and Stewart Island, as well as Ruapuke Island and Native Island offshore of Stewart Island (prehistoric)[58]

The South Island snipe was extirpated from the South Island and Stewart Island by the Polynesian rats introduced by the Māori. The species survived into historic times on Jacky Lee Island, Taukihepa / Big South Cape Island, and possibly other islands offshore of Stewart Island. The species became extinct in 1964 following a black rat (ship rat) invasion of Big South Cape Island and a failed relocation attempt.[58]
Forbes's snipe Coenocorypha chathamica Chatham Island in the Chatham Islands (prehistoric);[59]

Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands (survived into historic times, although there are no known historic records)[59]

According to New Zealand Birds Online, Forbes's snipe "are presumed to have been extirpated by [Polynesian] rats on Chatham Island between 1500 and 1800 A.D., and by feral cats on Pitt Island by the late 1800s."[59]

Owlet-nightjars (order Aegotheliformes)[edit]

Owlet-nightjars (family Aegothelidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
New Zealand owlet-nightjar Aegotheles novazelandiae North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The New Zealand owlet-nightjar was probably extinct by the 13th [c]entury due to predation by the [Polynesian rat] introduced when Polynesian settlers first arrived about a thousand years ago."[60]

Albatrosses and petrels (order Procellariiformes)[edit]

Petrels and shearwaters (family Procellariidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Imber's petrel Pterodroma imberi Chatham Islands (survived into historic times, although there are no known historic records)[61] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Imber’s petrel probably survived until at least the end of the nineteenth century as cats are the most likely cause of its extinction on Pitt and Mangere Islands and cats were only released on these islands in the mid to late nineteenth century. In addition, the species may have suffered from human hunting, and on main Chatham Island from predation by rats."[61]
Scarlett's shearwater Puffinus spelaeus South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, Scarlett's shearwater "became extinct shortly after human settlement; breeding colonies may have been [overexploited] directly, and the small size of Scarlett’s shearwaters would have made eggs and chicks vulnerable to predation by the introduced [Polynesian] rat."[62]

Penguins (order Sphenisciformes)[edit]

Penguins (family Spheniscidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Waitaha penguin Megadyptes waitaha South Island[25][63] and Stewart Island,[63] as well as Codfish Island offshore of Stewart Island[25] (prehistoric) According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The presence of Waitaha penguin remains in archaeological contexts indicates that early Polynesian settlers hunted the species and that this, perhaps with additional predation pressure from [Polynesian rats] or [kurī] (Polynesian dogs), was a probable cause of its rapid extinction around 1500 AD."[63]
Chatham penguin Eudyptes warhami Chatham Islands (prehistoric)[64]

North Island, South Island (vagrant, prehistoric)[64]

The Chatham Islands were settled by Polynesians around 1450 AD and the Chatham penguin was probably hunted to extinction within 150–200 years.[65] It was almost certainly extinct before Europeans arrived in the Chatham Islands.[66] Other species of crested penguin (Eudyptes spp.) continue to visit the Chatham Islands today. A crested penguin captured in the Chatham Islands around 1871 or 1872 was probably a visiting member of another species in the genus, not a late-surviving example of the Chatham penguin.[67][68]
Chatham penguin

Pelicans, herons, and ibises (order Pelecaniformes)[edit]

Herons (family Ardeidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
New Zealand bittern Ixobrychus novaezelandiae South Island (historic);[25][69]

North Island (prehistoric,[69] possible historic records[25]);

Chatham Island in the Chatham Islands (prehistoric)[25][70]

According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The last definite records were from the mid[-]1890s."[70] Also, "The early scarcity of [New Zealand bitterns] may have been due to the early spread of [brown] rats and feral cats throughout New Zealand. A captive bird showed alarm at the presence of a cat. Their final demise seems to coincide well with the first wave of the stoat invasion on the West Coast and was before the wetlands were drained for farming."[70]
New Zealand bittern

Hawks and relatives (order Accipitriformes)[edit]

Vultures, eagles, harriers, hawks, and kites (family Accipitridae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Eyles's harrier Circus teauteensis North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, Eyles's harrier is "[t]hought to have [become] extinct in prehistoric times due to a combination of human-induced impacts. Its forest and shrubland habitat was burned off by humans and replaced with grassland, predation by introduced [Polynesian] rats probably caused a decline in its prey species, and hunting by humans is apparent from the presence of harrier bones in middens, and use of its bones to make tools. The [Polynesian] rat and [the] Polynesian dog [kurī] may have preyed on its chicks. Unlike the now-abundant swamp harrier, Eyles'[s] harrier was probably too heavy and small-winged for the gliding and soaring necessary to hunt productively over open grassland areas."[71]
Haast's eagle Hieraaetus moorei South Island,[25][72] Stewart Island[72] (prehistoric) According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Haast’s eagle became extinct 500-600 years ago, around the same time that all moa species became extinct. Overhunting of its moa prey by humans was probably the main cause of its extinction. Loss of habitat due to the burning of South Island dry mosaic forests and shrublands by humans may also have caused declines in its prey species. Haast's eagle may also have been hunted by humans because its bones, some of which had been worked into tools, have been found in middens. Two claimed sightings from the 1800s are unlikely to have been Haast's eagle."[72]
Haast's eagle (upper left)

Owls (order Strigiformes)[edit]

True owls (family Strigidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Laughing owl Ninox albifacies North Island, South Island, Stewart Island (historic)[25][d] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Laughing owls may have been declining in the North Island before major European settlement, but were reportedly common in the Urewera Ranges in pre-European times. Only two specimens were collected from the North Island, both of which are now lost. They were common in the South Island in the mid-1800s, but thereafter declined rapidly. The last reported specimen was collected in 1914, and they were probably extinct by 1940. The introduced [Polynesian rat] (Rattus exulans) formed an important part of the owl’s diet following Polynesian arrival, and is unlikely to have contributed to the owl’s decline as they coexisted for hundreds of years in the South Island. The rapid decline to extinction of the laughing owl has been attributed to the introduction of stoats, ferrets, and weasels to control rabbits in the 1880s."[73]
Laughing owl

Parrots (order Psittaciformes)[edit]

Kea and kākā (family Nestoridae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Chatham kākā Nestor chathamensis Chatham Islands[74] The species came extinct sometime between the 13th and 16th centuries CE, possibly as a result of habitat loss, hunting pressure, and Polynesian rat predation following the initial Polynesian settlement of the Chatham Islands.[74]
Chatham kākā

Passerines (order Passeriformes)[edit]

New Zealand wrens (family Acanthisittidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Lyall's wren Traversia lyalli Stephens Island in Cook Strait (historic);[25]

North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[25]

Extinct in 1895.[75] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Lyall’s wrens were exterminated quickly by cats on Stephens Island but [Polynesian rats] had probably exterminated the vast populations on the two main islands before Europeans arrived."[75]
Lyall's wren
Bushwren Xenicus longipes North Island, South Island, and Stewart Island[25] as well as Kapiti Island in Cook Strait and Big South Cape Island, Solomon Island and Pukeweka offshore of Stewart Island[76] (historic) Bushwrens declined rapidly due to predation by invasive rats and stoats. Last seen in 1972.[76][77]
Bushwren
North Island stout-legged wren Pachyplichas jagmi North Island (prehistoric)[25] Extinct after Māori settlement but before European contact.[78][79]
South Island stout-legged wren Pachyplichas yaldwyni South Island (prehistoric)[25] Extinct after Māori settlement but before European contact.[79]
South Island stout-legged wren
Long-billed wren (New Zealand) Dendroscansor decurvirostris South Island (prehistoric)[25] Extinct shortly after Māori settlement.[80] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Its flightlessness and probable ground-nesting habits would have made it easy prey for the [Polynesian] rat."[80]

Honeyeaters (family Meliphagidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Chatham bellbird Anthornis melanocephala Chatham Islands (historic)[25] Last recorded in 1906.[81] According to New Zealand Birds Online, Chatham bellbirds "were probably extirpated by introduced predators, particularly feral cats and rats (initially [Polynesian] rats, then [brown] rats), and latterly, collection for museum specimens."[81]
Chatham bellbird

Old World orioles (family Oriolidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
North Island piopio Turnagra tanagra North Island (historic)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Buller described the North Island piopio as New Zealand's rarest endemic bird species in 1888. Specimens were shot in the Taihape district and central Taranaki into the 1880s, with the last confirmed record being a bird shot at Ohura, south Waikato, in February 1902. Unconfirmed sightings continued into the 1970s, mainly from forest behind Whanganui, inland Taranaki and Te Urewera. It is likely that predation by introduced [black] rats was the main cause of extinction for North Island piopio, though birds were occasionally eaten by settlers, and their final disappearance coincided with the spread of stoats."[82]
North Island piopio
South Island piopio Turnagra capensis South Island,[25][83] as well as Stephens Island in Cook Strait[25][83] and some Fiordland islands[83] (historic) According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The South Island piopio declined rapidly following European settlement, especially after 1870. It was extinct on Banks and Otago Peninsulas by the 1880s. It was still relatively common on the West Coast and Fiordland in the 1880s, but was extinct there by c.1895. This decline coincided with the spread of introduced [black] rats, and their final disappearance occurred about the time that stoats reached the West Coast and Fiordland. The Stephens Island subspecies was abundant in 1895 but extinct by 1897 following clearance of the island’s forest and introduction of cats by lighthouse keepers. Unconfirmed South Island sightings persisted into the 1930s, with the last in west Otago in 1963. Suggestions to transfer South Island piopio to an offshore sanctuary such as Kapiti Island or Little Barrier Island never eventuated, as live capture of free-flying forest birds was very difficult before the invention of modern mist nets."[83]
South Island piopio

Corvids (family Corvidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
New Zealand raven Corvus antipodum North Island,[25] South Island,[25] Stewart Island[84] (prehistoric)

Enderby Island in the Aukland Islands, part of the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands (prehistoric; either vagrant or human-introduced)[84]

According to New Zealand Birds Online, the New Zealand raven "became extinct before European contact. The presence of bone remains in midden sites shows that they were eaten by humans, and they may have been impacted by the rapid extirpation of mainland seal and seabird colonies following human arrival."[84]
New Zealand raven
Chatham raven Corvus moriorum Chatham Islands (prehistoric)[85] According to New Zealand Birds Online, the Chatham raven "became extinct after Moriori settled on the Chatham Islands, and before European contact. The presence of raven bone remains in midden sites shows that they were eaten by humans. However, it is equally likely that [the] extinction of the [Chatham raven] was part of a trophic cascade of effects caused by humans on the Chatham Islands, as the once enormous colonies of seals and seabirds they relied on were destroyed by over-hunting."[86]
Chatham raven

New Zealand wattlebirds (family Callaeidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
South Island kōkako Callaeas cinereus South Island,[25] Stewart Island,[87] and offshore islands[87] (historic,[25] possibly extant[87]) According to New Zealand Birds Online, "Predation by introduced mammalian predators was the main cause of extinction of the South Island [kōkako], with [black] rats, feral cats and stoats likely to have had the greatest impact. They declined markedly after the spread of [black] rats in the 1860s and stoats and weasels in the 1880s. South Island [kōkako] were described as rapidly approaching extinction in 1889 when North Island [kōkako] were still relatively common. It has been suggested the difference in [the] survival rate of the two species was due to the tendency of South Island [kōkako] to spend longer feeding on the forest floor and to nest closer to the ground than North Island [kōkako], making them more vulnerable to mammalian predators. Like huia, South Island [kōkako] were described as ecologically naive. An incubating bird tolerated a close approach without giving an alarm call or defending [its] young. [Māori] traditionally hunted [kōkako], and large numbers were killed for sale to European collectors and museums. Declared extinct by the Department of Conservation in 2008, the species' conservation status was moved from extinct to data deficient in 2013 following the acceptance of a sighting from near Reefton on the West Coast of the South Island in 2007."[88] There was also an unconfirmed sighting in the Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park in 2018.[89] A 2021 sighting and recording from Heaphy Track are undergoing analysis.[90][91] In 2019, the IUCN Red List wrote, "The probability of the species being extant has been estimated at 0.898 based on records and surveys and 0.220 based on threats [...]. Despite this high probability based on records and surveys, recent reports are not deemed to be credible and so the species is considered Possibly Extinct."[87]
South Island kōkako
Huia Heteralocha acutirostris North Island (historic)[25] According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The last accepted sighting was in 1907, but it is likely that a few huia persisted into the 1920s."[92] Also, "Predation by introduced mammals and, to a lesser extent, human hunting, was the likely cause of [the] huia['s] extinction. Large areas of native forest containing huia were logged or burned in the 1800s to make way for farming, but this would have caused a modest range reduction rather than being a major contributor to their extinction. [Māori] traditionally prized and wore huia tail feathers as a mark of status. Tail feathers became fashionable in Britain after the Duke of York was photographed wearing one during a 1901 visit to New Zealand. Overseas bird collectors and museums bought mounted specimens and tail feathers. Austrian naturalist Andreas Reischek took 212 pairs between 1877 and 1889. New Zealand naturalist Walter Buller recorded that 11 Maori hunters took 646 huia skins from [the] forest between [Manawatū] Gorge and [Ākitio] during one month in 1863. Gilbert Mair recorded eating 'a splendid stew of Huia, Kaka, Pigeons & Bacon' with Buller at a bush camp in Wairarapa, October 1883, after shooting 16 huia and capturing live birds. Thousands of huia were exported overseas. Protection measures enacted in the 1890s were poorly enforced. Two male birds kept at London Zoo in the 1880s died in captivity. Plans to transfer huia to Kapiti and Little Barrier island reserves never eventuated. A pair captured in 1893 for transfer to Little Barrier was acquired by Walter Buller and apparently sent to Baron Walter Rothschild in England."[92]
Huia

Grassbirds and allies (family Locustellidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Chatham fernbird Poodytes rufescens Mangere Island in the Chatham Islands (historic)[93]

Chatham Island and Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands (prehistoric)[93]

According to New Zealand Birds Online, "The species was probably wiped out on main Chatham Island by the [Polynesian] rats which arrived with the first Polynesian settlers, and/or by cats. Cats are presumed to have caused the fernbird’s extinction in the 19th century on the smaller rat-free islands in the group. On its final stronghold of Mangere Island, the last specimens were collected in January 1895, shortly after cats were released there to control rabbits."[93]
Chatham fernbird

Reptiles (class Reptilia)[edit]

Lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians (order Squamata)[edit]

Family Diplodactylidae[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Kawekaweau Hoplodactylus delcourti New Zealand (historic, speculatively) According to the IUCN Red List, "This species was described from a partial specimen of unknown provenance, but its morphological affinities have been considered to restrict it to either New Caledonia or New Zealand [...]. It has been included in the New Zealand fauna [...], based largely on a suggested association with New Zealand due to features of its morphology and secondarily on the similarity of the known specimen to early reports of a giant lizard in [Māori] folklore, from which this gecko gets its common name."[94] Also, "This species is thought to have become extinct around the mid-nineteenth century when the only specimen was collected."[94] By contrast, Conservation Status of New Zealand Reptiles, 2021 omitted this species on the basis that it is likely from New Caledonia.[95]
Kawekaweau

Skinks (family Scincidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Northland skink Oligosoma northlandi North Island (prehistoric)[96][97] Classified as extinct by Conservation Status of New Zealand Reptiles, 2021.[95] Known from late Holocene subfossil remains.[96][97]
Northland skink

Amphibians (class Amphibia)[edit]

Frogs (order Anura)[edit]

New Zealand primitive frogs (family Leiopelmatidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Aurora frog Leiopelma auroraensis South Island (prehistoric)[98] The Aurora frog is classified as extinct by Conservation Status of New Zealand Amphibians, 2017.[99] The disappearance of the extinct species of New Zealand primitive frog and the decline in the range of the surviving species occurred in the past 1,000 years. This is probably correlated to the arrival of the Polynesian rat in New Zealand.[98]
Markham's frog Leiopelma markhami North Island, South Island (prehistoric)[98] Markham's frog is classified as extinct by Conservation Status of New Zealand Amphibians, 2017.[99] The disappearance of the extinct species of New Zealand primitive frog and the decline in the range of the surviving species occurred in the past 1,000 years. This is probably correlated to the arrival of the Polynesian rat in New Zealand.[98]
Waitomo frog Leiopelma waitomoensis North Island (prehistoric)[98] The Waitomo frog is classified as extinct by Conservation Status of New Zealand Amphibians, 2017.[99] The disappearance of the extinct species of New Zealand primitive frog and the decline in the range of the surviving species occurred in the past 1,000 years. This is probably correlated to the arrival of the Polynesian rat in New Zealand.[98]

Ray-finned fish (class Actinopterygii)[edit]

Smelts (order Osmeriformes)[edit]

Australia-New Zealand smelts and graylings (family Retropinnidae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
New Zealand grayling Prototroctes oxyrhynchus North Island, South Island (historic)[100] According to the IUCN Red List, the New Zealand grayling "was abundant at the time of European settlement in the 1860s, but population decline was noted by the late 1870s. The species' disappearance continued rapidly and, by the 1920s the species was known to exist only in some streams in the [E]ast Cape, Wairarapa[,] and Otaki districts in the North Island, and on the West Coast of the South Island. Even in these areas, it had undergone significant rapid decline[,] and specimens were rarely encountered. In the early 1930s a specimen, possibly the last, was brought to the British Museum, however, the origin and date of [its] collection were not noted. [...] The demise of the New Zealand [g]rayling was possibly due to a combination of factors including over-exploitation by early settlers, the deterioration of the freshwater habitat through the clearance of forest cover resulting in increased light penetration[,] and raised water temperature and the impact of invasive salmonids."[100]
New Zealand grayling

Invertebrates[edit]

Annelids (phylum Annelida)[edit]

Clitellates (class Clitellata)[edit]

Order Opisthopora[edit]
Family Megascolecidae[edit]
Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Schmarda's worm Tokea orthostichon North Island (historic)[101] This large earthworm species was described in 1861 using a single specimen from Maungarei / Mount Wellington in Auckland. There are no other survey reports of this species, nor was it found in recent searches.[101]

Arthropods (phylum Arthropoda)[edit]

Insects (class Insecta)[edit]

Beetles (order Coleoptera)[edit]
Ground beetles (family Carabidae)[edit]
Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Mecodema punctellum Stephens Island in Cook Strait (historic)[102] This large, flightless ground beetle species has not been seen since 1931 despite searches on both Stephens Island and the nearby D’Urville Island.[102]

Plants (kingdom Plantae)[edit]

Order Brassicales[edit]

Mustard and crucifer family (family Brassicaceae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Waitakere scurvy grass Lepidium amissum North Island (historic)[103] Last seen in 1917.[103]
Lepidium obtusatum North Island (historic)[104][105] Last seen in 1950.[104][105]

Order Santalales[edit]

Showy mistletoes (family Loranthaceae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Adams mistletoe Trilepidea adamsii North Island,[106][107] as well as Great Barrier Island and Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf[106] (historic) Last seen in 1954.[106][107]
Adams mistletoe

Order Caryophyllales[edit]

Pink and carnation family (family Caryophyllaceae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Stellaria elatinoides North Island, South Island (historic)[108] Last seen in the 1940s.[108] According to New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, Stellaria elatinoides is a synonym of Stellaria multiflora subsp. multiflora, which survives in Australia.[109]

Order Gentianales[edit]

Family Loganiaceae[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Logania depressa North Island (historic)[110] Last seen in 1847.[110]

Order Boraginales[edit]

Borage and forget-me-not family (family Boraginaceae)[edit]

Common name Scientific name Location Comments Pictures
Waiautoa forget-me-not Myosotis laingii South Island (historic)[111] Last seen in 1912.[112]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The source gives "11,700 calendar yr b2k (before AD 2000)". But "BP" means "before AD 1950". Therefore, the Holocene began 11,650 BP. Doing the math, that is c. 9700 BCE.
  2. ^ This 2010 source treats Euryapteryx curtus and Euryapteryx gravis as separate species. Now they are generally treated as synonyms.
  3. ^ This 2010 source also mentions Chatham Islands localities. The source adds, "Chatham Island fossils may represent an undescribed taxon, a suggestion yet to be investigated." This apparently refers to what we now call the Chatham merganser (Mergus milleneri), which was described in 2014. Since this list includes the Chatham merganser separately, the alleged Chatham Islands localities of the New Zealand merganser are disregarded.
  4. ^ According to this 2010 source, the laughing owl's "reported fossil occurrence on Chatham Island has been discounted."

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Bell, B.D. 1994. A review of the status of New Zealand Leiopelma species (Anura: Leiopelmatidae), including a summary of demographic studies in Coromandel and on Maud Island. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, Vol. 21: 341–349.
  • Bunce, M., Worthy, T.H., Ford, T., Hoppitt, W., Willerslev, E., Drummond A., and Cooper, A. 2003. Extreme reversed sexual size dimorphism in the extinct New Zealand moa Dinornis. Nature, 425:172–175.
  • Cooper, A., Lalueza-Fox, C., Anderson, C., Rambaut, A., Austin, J., and Ward, R. 2001. Complete mitochondrial genome sequences of two extinct moas clarify ratite evolution. Nature 409:704–707.
  • Day, D., 1981, The Doomsday Book of Animals, Ebury Press, London.
  • Gill, B.; Martinson, P., (1991) New Zealand’s Extinct Birds, Random Century New Zealand Ltd.
  • Gill, B. J. 2003. Osteometry and systematics of the extinct New Zealand ravens (Aves: Corvidae: Corvus). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 1: 43–58.
  • Flannery, T., and Schouten, P., 2001, A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals, William Heinemann, London. ISBN 0-434-00819-2 (UK edition).
  • Fuller, E., 2001, Extinct Birds, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-253-34034-9 (UK Edition).
  • Huynen, L., Millar, C.D., Scofield, R.P., and Lambert, D.M. 2003. Nuclear DNA sequences detect species limits in ancient moa. Nature, 425:175–178.
  • Perkins, S. 2003. Three Species No Moa? Fossil DNA analysis yields surprise. Science News, 164:84.
  • Philip R. Millener & T. H. Worthy (1991). "Contribution to New Zealand's late Quaternary avifauna. II: Dendroscansor decurvirostris, a new genus and species of wren (Aves: Acantisittidae)." Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 21, 2: 179–200.
  • Philip R. Millener (1988). "Contributions to New Zealand's late Quaternary avifauna. I: Pachyplichas, a new genus of wren (Aves: Acanthisittidae), with two new species." Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 18:383–406
  • Wilson, K-J, (2004) Flight of the Huia, Canterbury University Press, Christchurch. ISBN 0-908812-52-3
  • World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1996. Karocolens tuberculatus. In: IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 2 March 2006.
  • World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1996. Mecodema punctellum. In: IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 2 March 2006.
  • Worthy, T.H. 1998. The Quaternary fossil avifauna of Southland, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of The Royal Society of New Zealand. Volume 28, Number 4, pp 537–589.
  • Worthy, T.H., Holdaway R.N., 2002, The lost world of the Moa: Prehistoric Life of New Zealand, Indiana University Press, Bloomington. ISBN 0-253-34034-9.

External links[edit]