eastern rosella

The eastern rosella, according to Oliver, was imported to New Zealand in 1910 when a small shipment that had been refused entry by the Customs Department was released off Otago Heads from the ship that brought them. Other populations became established around Auckland in the 1920s and Wellington in the 1960s and are now the most common and widespread parakeet throughout the North Island. These flocks are also assumed to have originated from escaped caged birds but until some research is done, some DNA analysis, we have no way of knowing whether or not these birds, or at least some of them, have not found their own way here from Australia.

The most compelling question regarding the eastern rosella, especially in light of arguments regarding the status of introduced birds and whether or not they should be exterminated, is whether these birds are simply filling a niche which our endemic kakariki have vacated or whether they have accelerated the kakariki's decline. Virtually no research, either here or in Australia, has been done on the eastern rosella so we really know very little about them other than anecdotal observations from bird watchers.

Both kakariki and eastern rosella are cavity nesters but how does the eastern rosella somehow elude the predations of rats, Rattus rattus? Oliver and other early observers seem to think that the decline of kakariki coincided with irruptions of rats. The red-crowned kakariki is reported to feed its young on the ground for a time before they can fly which must make the young birds particularly vulnerable and a reason why they, as opposed to the yellow-crowned, have disappeared from the mainland. Wright and Clout are silent on whether or not the Ornitholological Society distribution maps indicate whether the kakariki waned as the eastern rosella waxed.

Both the eastern rosella and kakariki seem to have similar diets. Here in Greytown in the Wairarapa where there are many old commercial apple and pear orchards with fruit left to rot over the winter, eastern rosellas are to be found in numbers and are largely not persecuted. It would be hard to argue they are a threat to any other bird here, but then where do these birds nest? In the trees on the plains or in the bush clad Tararuas where there are very small numbers of kaka and kakariki?

I would hope that the appropriate research is done before measures are taken against these birds.

—  Greytown, Wairarapa, 2006

eastern rosella
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

rosella, nonpareil parrot, Psittacus eximus

Description:  — 

Introduced bird

32 cm, 110 g. Head, upper breast and undertail crimson; cheeks white, lower breast yellow, back, rump, flanks and belly yellow green; mottled black on back; wings blue.

Where to find:  — 

Found in the North Island, especially Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Wairarapa and Hutt Valley.

Credit for the photograph: — 

Illustration description: — 


Ferdinand Lucas Bauer (1760-1826).

Greene, W.T., Parrots in Captivity, 1884.

Reference(s): — 


Australian Museum

Wright, David, & Clout, Mick, The eastern rosella in New Zealand, DOC Science Internal Series 2001.

Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 


Monday, 19 May, 2014; ver2009v1


©  2006    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.