The toutouwai and kākā research is led by Dr Rachael Shaw, a Lecturer and Rutherford Discovery Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington. Here’s a few words from her:

“My research interests have ranged from evaluating potential evolutionary pathways for brood parasitic behavior in birds to testing the cognitive abilities of Eurasian jays (and even a few elephants…). My current research investigates the role that cognition plays in the lives of wild birds. Ultimately, my aim is to understand the processes by which cognition evolves and how we might harness cognition for conservation.”


Rachael, Nicky and KC at Zealandia in 2016


This research would not be possible without the ongoing support of Zealandia and its Chief Executive Dr. Danielle Shanahan. We are also fortunate to have several collaborators in our current and previous research, including Prof. Stephen Marsland (Victoria University of Wellington), Dr Andrew Lensen (VUW), Assoc. Prof. Cilla Wehi (University of Otago), Dr Corina Logan (MPI Leipzig), Prof. KC Burns (VUW), Prof. Nicky Clayton (University of Cambridge), Dr Neeltje Boogert (University of Exeter) and Dr Alex Taylor (University of Auckland).

Field Assistants

Since 2014 Annette Harvey has provided invaluable training and support for the toutouwai banding and breeding season monitoring. We are also indebted to the amazing team of kākā volunteers at Zealandia, led by Linton Miller, who have been providing us with banding, monitoring and training for several years.