CROW is a volunteer group which was formed to care for the large colony of abandoned roosters at the Onetangi Sports Park on Waiheke Island. We have a rostered feeding schedule (a ‘rooster roster’) whereby a different volunteer visits each day to ensure that the roosters have a base supply of food and water in addition to scraps dropped off by members of the public. All food is paid for by donations. We also keep an eye on the health and wellbeing of the birds and take them to the vet if necessary.
In the late 1990s a group of roosters started to accumulate at Waiheke Island’s Matiatia Wharf. Probably they came from backyard chook keepers who ended up with unwanted males. Perhaps not wanting to kill these lovable but rowdy fellows, but not knowing what else to do with them, they dropped them here. Tourists and locals fed them and the roosters became something of an island attraction.
Consequently when numbers increased and the council stepped in, proposing to cull the birds, the community pushed back in true Waihekian style. Council were persuaded to instead relocate them, and the current colony at the entrance to Onetangi Sports Park was established.
Today over 60 roosters live at the park. They have been joined by probably twice that number of feathered freeloaders in the form of wild mallard ducks, who take advantage of the daily buffet. Numerous locals visit the park to feed the roosters. Many people bring their kids, or visitors to the island, to see them. It is even a popular stop with most of the island’s tour companies. Volunteers also visit daily to ensure that the boys have a steady supply of food and water. The food is funded by donations from a few generous locals, but we still often struggle to make ends meet. If you would like to help by making a one-off or ongoing donation, please click here for bank account details.
The dark side of the rooster colony
To a visitor it might seem as though the roosters have a great life – roaming free, hanging out with their mates and getting fed every day. However, while they are certainly better off in some ways than many of their species, life at the park is not all bread and skittles.
We encourage people who have chickens to avoid producing unwanted roosters in the first place. Typically at least half of any clutch of eggs will be males, which will end up being either killed or dumped. If you wish to have laying hens, The Animal Sanctuary in Matakana have hundreds of rescued ex-battery hens in need of homes. Crow Waiheke can help organise this for you. Not only are they great layers, they are friendly and lovable pets – and you get the satisfaction of giving them a second chance at life! Contact us to find out more. Click here to read heartwarming stories from people who have adopted rescued battery hens.
Please DO NOT view dumping your roosters at the park as a viable option. While we do our best to minimise the birds’ suffering, dumping is not a humane solution. Not only cruel, it is also illegal and can incur fines of up to $2000.
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking of roosters as wild birds. They have been domesticated over thousands of years and are no longer equipped to fend for themselves. You would not dump your dog or cat at the sports park (we hope). Dumping a rooster is no different.
Please note: it is illegal to keep poultry except in a rural area.
There are certain things we love to eat and other things that we either will not touch or are bad for us. Our volunteers give us a bag of wheat each day but we love your left over fruit/vegies and bread too. Please don’t feed us fish heads or skeletons, we don’t like them and they don’t take long to start smelling out the joint. Avocado is bad for us, as is citrus – and onions aren’t too good either! If you see us without water please feel free to top up our water troughs, there is a tap at the sports park.
We cant eat your money but our volunteers will use it to keep us fed and looked after. We even have a dedicated bank account:
Account Name: Onetangi Roosters
ASB Bank No. 12-3629-0694189-00
You could even purchase one of our tshirts as the profit goes straight back to us.
Get a Friends of the Onetangi Roosters t-shirt for $40 and ALL PROFITS go into the Feed Account.
Local/International artist Katie Trinkle-Legge has generously donated the artwork in support of the roosters. For more of Katie’s roosters stop by SPACE studio in Oneroa.
Navy Blue V-Neck
Medium Blue Round Neck
Sizes: Small to 3XL
To purchase one of our t-shirts please text Kim on 022 600 4553
Free delivery from Oneroa to Onetangi!
These little ladies were dumped at the park a few months ago. Thankfully they were discovered before any damage was done. They were vet checked and given a new home and now they are happily rewarding their new owner with plenty of lovely eggs.
We had been trying to catch this little guy for a few weeks with no luck when a concerned member of the public noticed he was being beaten up. She took this photo and alerted us on our Facebook page. We were able to pick him up and get him straight to the vet. Unfortunately his injuries were quite severe and the vet had to put him down.
This guy has caused a lot of concern for a lot of people. We finally managed to catch him and get him to the vet and he is actually in quite good health despite his appearance. After treatment we were given the all clear to return him. He is quite the vocal lad and we are keeping a close eye on him but the good news is that he isant being bullied or peaked so we are hoping his feathers will grow back eventually.
There are times when we just have to let things be. This guy often gives me a heart attack when I turn up and discover him covered in blood. What we have found though, is that the roosters combs bleed a lot like most face injuries. More often than not its not as bad as it looks. We keep a close eye on him to make sure that there is no infection and usually a day or so after you wouldnt even know he looked like this.