Albatross ambassador for kindness

The winning name (with 866 votes) was announced by DOC Ranger Sharyn Broni live on the Royal Cam this morning.

Atawhai is an apt and beautiful name for our most-watched toroa/northern royal albatross chick, whose life has been live-streamed since she hatched on 31 January this year, says Sharyn Broni.

“Competition entrants who suggested Atawhai, spoke of the albatross chick ‘connecting the world through kindness’ and ‘bringing people together’ through the difficulties of the global covid-19 pandemic.”

“As Atawhai spreads her wings across the oceans during migration, her name will celebrate the message of kindness worldwide,” says one entrant.

Others say the name Atawhai reflects the devotion of her parents in nurturing their chick for the past seven months, as well as the kindness and dedication of those involved in helping to sustain the royal albatross colony at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head.

Atawhai was chosen by public vote from the five top names, which also included Kōtuhituhi, Manaaki, Marama and Waimarie. More than 3200 people from New Zealand and around the world voted for their favorite name.

DOC staff picked the competition winner, Nikita Baynes, at random, from the 13 people who put in entries for Atawhai. Her prize is a one-on-one virtual tour with a DOC ranger around the headland, the nest, and the Royal Albatross Centre. She will also receive a framed photo of this year’s chick.

The second most popular name was Marama (666 votes). Josephine Kennington won the second prize, drawn from the six people who submitted entries for Marama.

The Royal Albatross Centre supported the competition with a selection of prizes including albatross-themed merchandise for the second prize and two spot prizes.

The five names were chosen by Te Poari a Pukekura (the Pukekura Co-management Trust) from a short-list of 20 names, which included names of English, Māori, Spanish and Arabic origin. There were more than 2,500 name entries in the ‘celebrating connections’ themed competition.

When Atawhai takes to the skies this month, she will fly 9000 km across the Pacific Ocean to feed near South America. It will be four years before she returns to the Southern Hemisphere’s only mainland albatross colony at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head to breed.

She will be an ambassador for her species carrying with her the message of kindness and care, as she faces the threats and challenges of life on the world’s oceans.

Since December 2019 when the Royal Cam live stream joined New York’s Cornell University/Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s global network of live bird cameras, the live stream has had over 1.6 million views. There was a big jump in people watching during the covid-19 lockdown earlier this year.


Background

DOC’s Royal Cam has been running at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head since January 2016. It has been gaining in popularity over the past four years with a total of more than 5.4 million views from 199 countries.

Royal Cam has recorded the life of four previous toroa/albatross chicks from hatching to fledging. Names chosen by competition for these birds were: Moana, Tūmanako, Amīria and Karere.

DOC manages the toroa/albatross colony with the support of the Otago Peninsula Trust and Te Poāri a Pukekura (Pukekura Co-management Trust). It has grown from one breeding pair in 1937 to more than 60 breeding pairs currently.

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