The kuaka - or bar-tailed godwit - may be small in size, but every year they fly a non-stop 12,000km journey over eight days across the Pacific Ocean.
Many kuaka spend the summer in Pūkorokoro in the Firth of Thames, a central hub for kuaka conservation and mātauranga.
Local iwi Ngāti Pāoa is helping to drive efforts to ensure the survival of this resilient manu.
Ngāti Pāoa uri Glen Tupuhi says his tupuna recall the summer skies being clouded with manu.
"They would block out the sun by just lifting off of the flats," he tells The Hui.
"And of course, [our tupuna] did cull them; they were a source of protein in a country that's heavily reliant on fish and birds."
Tupuhi grew up in the Hauraki settlement of Kaiaua, where kuaka would flock to the food-rich shorelines after leaving their nests in the great Siberian and Alaskan tundra.
Kuaka hold a special place in te ao Māori and it's believed their migration helped guide Kupe and other navigators to Aotearoa.
However, today they're under serious threat with the kuaka now endangered across the country.
"Considering the loss of habitat, considering the mammalian predators and those rats and mice and possums, they are prolific killers," Tupuhi says.
"The fact that we've still got kuaka is a miracle in itself, but that shows you about the survival instinct of a bird that leaves itself so vulnerable to predation."
Not only has Ngāti Pāoa been active in its own rohe - Gary Thompson travelled to China, a place where the kuaka make a pit stop on their way to Aotearoa.
Thompson says there are areas where the kuaka and huahou stop in Beijing and Hubei in the Yellow Sea where commercial activity has affected the bird's habitat.
"People down here were starting to notice that the numbers are starting to be too depleted and getting smaller."
In 2016, the Minister for State Forestry Administration in China travelled to New Zealand to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Conservation.
"Just to agree to do as much as they can to retain these wetland habitats for these birds."
That agreement was signed at the Pūkorokoro Shorebird Centre, a research and education facility. The centre is managed by Keith Woodley, who keeps a close eye on the kuaka.
"I had a count of 4000 earlier and we had about 500 approximately stay on the Firth over Tīkapa Moana. Over the winter that's quite normal, mainly mature birds," he says.
One kuaka was tracked flying 12,000km in a non-stop eight-day flight.
Some birds are only four months old and have already flown across the Pacific Ocean.
"Getting individual migration routes of individual birds over two consecutive years is a major advance," Woodley says.
Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.