We love you, even if you’re ugly

By Muriwai Hei
The kawau once led all seabirds in an attempt to take over the territory of land birds, after arguing with the tīrairaka (fantail) about who had better food. Both birds asked the wise ruru (morepork) when the battle should start, who replied ‘Tomorrow’. He repeated this every time they went back to ask him, so the battle never began.

The Endangered Species Foundation has received an influx of requests to virtually adopt a kawau (cormorant or shag) for Christmas.

Since launching the campaign, "We Love You, Even If You're Ugly", the foundation has collected 196 donations and up to $11,029 has been raised toward an end goal of $30,000 to save the endangered Chatham Shag.

"We knew shags were popular, but not this popular," says General Manager Natalie Jessup.

There are 12 species of kawau found in New Zealand which live close to the sea and waterways. The critically endangered Chatham shag is found only on Wharekauri-Rēkohu. It’s estimated current population is just 700. The adoptive parent of the kawau receives an adoption certificate and a link to more information.

Other endangered species up for adoption include the Hamilton’s frog, Fuzzweed moth and Giant weta fungas which attacks giant wētā by covering and killing its host with a white mould.