Does the South Island kokako or grey ghost still exist?
Eileen Mayo completed this work in 1976 as part of the series Rare and Endangered Birds of New Zealand for the Dunedin jelly manufacturer Gregg's. The works were reproduced as cards which were given away with each pack of jelly with the aim of customers collecting the entire set of 36. But it's the South Island Kokako that captures my imagination the most out of the series. The last official sighting of the bird was at Mount Aspiring in 1967 just nine years before Mayo completed her image. The bird was officially declared extinct in 2006.
Known as the grey ghost, not a single photograph of a living South Island kokako is known to exist, but there is a group of dedicated kokako enthusiasts who believe the bird is still alive in corners of some of the South Island's remotest native forests. Listen to the beautiful tunes of the North Island kokako in full song here. Best of luck to the South Island kokako hunters, we wish them well in their search for the grey ghost.