Once, not too long ago, the forests of New Zealand rang with the haunting calls of the Grey Ghost.
The Kōkako - nicknamed the 'Grey Ghost' due to its blue-grey plumage, haunting cries and knack for disappearing acts - are often identified by their call rather than by sight. In many cases, a 'sighting' of these birds consists of a single call, after which the birds can remain undetected in the same location for weeks at a time.
As with many of our native wildlife, the North and South Island Kōkako were predated upon heavily by introduced species including cats, rats and stoats. With little to no defence against such hunters, Kōkako were quickly run almost to extinction.
North Island Kōkako as depicted by one of our Guest Artists: Flox
The South Island Kōkako, distinguishable from its North Island cousin by bright orange wattles and a smaller, darker body, was officially declared extinct in 2008 with the last official record of a sighting back in 1967. Comparatively, the slightly larger North Island Kōkako (with a lighter body, and deep blue wattles) were rescued from the brink with a mere 330 pairs remaining in 1999. Through various conservation efforts, predator-free islands and countless hours of trapping and volunteer work, today the current estimate sits around 1700 pairs.
Although a far cry from previous population numbers, the species is certainly on its way to recovery. In fact, today, there are an increasing number of reported sightings of the South Island Kōkako. So many, in fact, that the species is currently classified as 'Data Defcient' rather than extinct and the race is on to be the first to prove the species still exists - although not an easy task to 'capture the grey ghost'.
In order to increase awareness of the species, and to support the Rotoehu Ecological Trust (RET) that protect a Category One population of Kōkako, Paper Rain has joined forces with Kōkako Organic Coffee Roasters and artist Ricardo Rios to create the Long-Sleeve Kōkako Tee. The RET operates under the philosophy that by protecting and ensuring the survival of the Kōkako, the entire ecosystem will benefit.
Each tee donates back to the trust and Kōkako conservation, in addition to supporting fair trade, organic ethical fashion. Don't forget to take home some certified organic, fair trade Kōkako Coffee too! Climate neutral, not to mention with home-compostable packaging, Kōkako Organic Coffee Roasters they've been supporting the RET by providing coffee sponsorship, muscle power through volunteering and donations since 2015.
Not to mention powering the entire Paper Rain Team for a very long time!!