Prior to the arrival of Europeans, hihi were found throughout Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island) of Aotearoa New Zealand and certainly on the larger offshore islands including Aotea (Great Barrier), Te Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier) and Kāpiti. It has been noted that by 1873 hihi were rare in the north of this range but still relatively common in the south. By the 1880’s hihi had become extinct everywhere except Te Hauturu-oToi. The reasons for this decline are not well understood but likely include habitat destruction and modification, introduced mammalian predators and possibly pathogens and disease.
Conservation efforts began in 1980 and there are currently 8 populations of hihi distributed across their former range.
Map of hihi distribution