Endemic to the Chatham Islands, New Zealand.

Within the islands, fossil bones are present on Chatham, Pitt and Mangere Islands.


Cool temperate coastal forest, probably also foraged on shoreline.

Trophic strategy

Primarily thought to have fed on soil invertebrates, though probably also ate fruits and seeds, and eggs and chicks of ground-nesting seabirds.

It was part of a guild of endemic flightless rails which also included:

  • the giant extinct Hawkin’s rail (Diaphorapteryx hawkinsi), approximately 2kg
  • the very small Hutton’s rail (Cabalus modestus), 60g

(Atkinson & Millener 1991)

Fossil remains of all three species are found on Chatham, Pitt and Mangere Islands, indicating that the guild was well established before the formation of Pitt Strait approximately 10,000 years ago (Worthy & Holdaway 2002).