The kererū or New Zealand wood pigeon (also known as kūkū and kūkupa) has been acclaimed the ‘most handsome and characteristic bird’ of the New Zealand forest. It is large and plump, with a white breast and iridescent green and bronze feathers on its head, and is distinguished by the noisy beat of its wings. It feeds on the berries, young leaves and flowers of trees and shrubs, and by dispersing seeds it assists the regeneration of our native forests. In earlier times Māori ate kererū, attracting the thirsty birds to drinking troughs and snaring them with nooses. The deforestation that followed European settlement took a heavy toll on the kererū population, but the bird is now protected and widely distributed throughout the country.