The North Island goose was a large goose whose closest living relative is probably the Cape Barren goose. It was one of two closely-related species of New Zealand geese, the other being the South Island goose. The North Island goose was the smaller of the two species. It was flightless with much reduced wings, and had a modified second toe which formed a spur and may have been used for fighting.
The North Island goose was large. At 15 kg and standing a metre tall, it would have been as large as some of the smaller species of moa. It was terrestrial, flightless and had short wings and a shortened tail.
Distribution and habitat
North Island geese were restricted to open country and forest margins, including grassland, dunelands, coastal margins and dry eastern areas. They were probably most widespread during the Pleistocene ice ages, with their distribution contracting as temperatures increased and forested areas became more widespread.
North Island geese were not widespread, and the fossil record indicates that they were not abundant, probably due to the limited extent of their preferred grassland habitats.
Threats and conservation
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.
The North Island goose is likely to have grazed on grasses and herbs.
Gill, B.; Martinson, P. 1991. New Zealand’s extinct birds. Auckland, Random Century.
Tennyson, A.; Martinson, P. 2006. Extinct birds of New Zealand. Wellington, Te Papa Press.
Worthy, T.H.; Holdaway, R.N. 2002. The lost world of the moa. Christchurch, Canterbury University Press.
Adams, L. 2013 [updated 2022]. North Island goose | tarepo. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz
North Island goose | Tarepo
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- Egg laying dates