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Kōtare Sacred Kingfisher Paintings

The Sacred Kingfisher or Kōtare was the 2021 winner of Bird of the Year / Te Manu Rongonui o Te Tau. Kōtare Kingfisher = Awareness.

I love this majestic little bird, its squat wee body, iridescent feathers, especially it's cute chirp and calls. I hear and see them around Plimmerton and stop in my tracks to watch whenever I hear the call of the Kingfisher - in the hope of seeing it.

The New Zealand native Kōtare / Kingfisher is a distinctive bird with stunning plumage and feathers that glint iridescent green blue.

Kingfishers are symbolic of freedom, courage, adventure, balance, and free spirit.

According to Polynesian legend, the Sacred Kingfisher is believed to have power over the ocean and waves. The native New Zealand Sacred Kingfisher has a shining green-blue back, a thick black bill that distinguishes it from other Kingfishers. While there are over 100 species of kingfisher worldwide, the Sacred Kingfisher only breed in New Zealand.

The word 'Kōtare' is sometimes the word for the elevated platform in a pā, used as a lookout point to watch for enemies. Which is apt given the Kingfisher perches motionless then attacks its prey - seemingly from nowhere. The Kōtare knows what to do and when to act, it is patient and alert to subtle changes in its environment.

Kōtare is both fearless and aggressive when it comes to food and family. It has dagger-like beaks to tunnel into soft tree trunks or clay banks. It nests in cavities in trees, cliffs and banks and breeds from September to February. They build a nest 'chamber' with a wee tunnel. Incubation is shared, but predominantly by the female. After leaving the nest, chicks are fed by both parents for 7–10 days before they start to catch food for themselves.

Kingfishers, like dragonflies, are a sign of healthy water. Kingfishers love wetlands and thrive in beautiful places like Pauahatanui. We must stop building on and clearing our wetlands. Wetlands are like the kidneys of the land and act as filters between the land and water and assist with preventing floods.

While it's hard to pick a favourite bird, as I love them all - if I had no choice but to pick one - it'd be the cute little Kōtare.