The Department of Conservation has launched an investigation after social media posts appear to show a person plucking and cooking a kererū.
The Instagram story posts include a video and an image, along with the text, "take nan to the police lol" and "compiling evidence to put away nan" followed by police emojis. The video shows a woman, presumably the poster's nana, plucking the bird, and the photo shows the kererū in a large metal cooking pot.
"The Department is investigating the allegations of a video of a kererū being plucked and cooked on social media," a DOC spokesperson told Newshub.
Kererū are a protected species under the Wildlife Act and cannot be possessed without permission, whether alive or dead, they say.
"Any person breaching the Act may face prosecution."
Newshub has contacted the person who posted the video and image to Instagram.
Forest and Bird says while kererū aren't threatened with extinction, it is "never okay" to kill and eat protected native birds.
"It's illegal to kill kererū, or any native bird. A person could face two years in prison or a $100,000 fine under the Wildlife Act," a spokesperson told Newshub.
They added that New Zealanders "really need to look after" kererū.
"They are incredibly important for our native forests because they are the only birds big enough to swallow the large fruit of karaka, miro, and other native trees, and disperse the seeds," they said.
"You can't kill a kererū without affecting the whole living forest."
The World Wildlife Fund describes the native birds as "great gardeners of the New Zealand skies", due to how they spread seeds.
"Kererū recovery is critical to the survival of New Zealand's unique forests, because they are one of the only surviving mainland native species able to swallow the fruit of some of these forest trees," their website says.
"Some of these seeds need to pass through the gut of a bird to germinate, meaning the health of our forests is absolutely dependent on kererū."
There are about 21,500 kererū, according to last year's count of the native birds.