Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)


Weka (Gallirallus australis)


French: Râle wéka German: Wekaralle Spanish: Rascón weka
Other common names: North Island Weka (greyi), Western Weka (australis), Eastern Weka, Buff Weka (hectori), Stewart Island Weka (scotti)

Rallus australis


, 1786,

Dusky Sound, South Island, New Zealand


Includes described form G. troglodytes, now regarded as a black morph of present species. Considerable geographical variation, with up to eight races accepted in the past; situation complicated by extensive individual variation, especially in nominate race and scotti. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. a. greyi (Buller, 1888) – North I.
  • G. a. australis (Sparrman, 1786) – N & W South I.
  • G. a. hectori (F. W. Hutton, 1874) – formerly E coast and interior of South I, but now confined to Chatham Is (where introduced).
  • G. a. scotti (Ogilvie-Grant, 1905) – Stewart I.
  • Introduced to many islands: greyi to Kapiti, Rakitu, Mokoia and Kawau, and to Bay of Islands; nominate to Kapiti, Chatham and Macquarie (now extinct on last); hectori to Chatham; and scotti to Solander and other outlying islands off Stewart I, and also to Kapiti and Macquarie (now extinct on latter).

    Descriptive notes

    Male 50–60cm, 532–1605 (1049)g, wingspan 50–60cm; female 46–50cm, 350–1035(737) g. Unmistakable: large, hefty, thickset, flightless species with... read more


    Adult “spacing call” a repeated shrill whistle “coo-eet”, rising in pitch;... read more


    Frequently inhabits forest, sometimes edges only; also woodland, scrub and grassland, including... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous and opportunistic, taking mainly native fruit and invertebrates, sometimes vertebrates; eats more vegetable matter in winter.... read more


    Season highly variable, depending on climate, food and size of population; start recorded Aug–Nov, end recorded Nov–Mar, but... read more


    Although sedentary and flightless, can move for significant distances. Normally confined to... read more

    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. Previously considered Near Threatened. Race hectori CITES II. Formerly occurred throughout North I and much of South I, D'Urville I and Stewart I,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Weka (Gallirallus australis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2019).