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Australasian swamp harrier

Braided River Status

Found on or over all non-forested habitats from coastal waters to high-country farms, it is abundant along all braided rivers.


The Australasian swamp harrier (Circus approximans), kahu (Maori) also known as swamp harrier and harrier hawk is New Zealand’s largest bird of prey. As carrion feeders, harriers fulfil a vital role in our environment cleaning up all the animals that die on our roads and farms, as well as preying on vermin like rats and mice. As such, although the harrier is not a threatened species, it is important that we ensure they remain in healthy numbers. Fines for killing a New Zealand Falcon can be up to $300,000!

Australasian swamp harrier

Australasian swamp harrier

Are they really a problem on braided rivers?

Along some rivers, harriers have become top predators and are unfortunately contributing to the decline of rare and endangered braided river bird species. As they are partially protected, it is legal to control individuals that are causing harm, but this does not mean you can take matters into your own hands! Please contact your nearest DOC office if you wish to discuss. 

Before taking any action, it is crucial not to mistake them for the smaller and much rarer New Zealand falcon (see ID chart below). Fines for killing a New Zealand Falcon can be up to $300,000!

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