Porter Heights Ski Area manager Uli Dinsenbacher said a kea died after being hit by a rock that was thrown by a child at the skifield with a school group last Friday afternoon.
Dinsenbacher was unsure whether the children were throwing stones at each other and the kea got caught in the crossfire or if the bird was targeted.
It was a busy day and there were about 200 children in the car park at the time, he said.
If skifield staff had seen the children throwing rocks at the kea, they would have intervened.
''It was just kids being kids,'' he said.
''I don't know if the child knew what he was doing.''
DOC field centre supervisor Chris Stewart said it was the first incident of this kind he had heard about.
There were signs at skifields that kea were endangered.
It would not necessarily take a strong throw for a rock to kill a kea.
''They are so cheeky they will come quite close to people,'' Stewart said.
Police and DOC would look into the circumstances of the kea's death and ''work with'' the child and the school, he said.
Under the Wildlife Act, killing kea is a criminal offence, liable to a fine of up to $100,000 or six months in prison.
There were only an estimated 5000 kea left in New Zealand.
It was unlikely any action would be taken against the child or school.
Stewart said DOC hoped to carry out a study on the dead bird. They could test the corpse for lead poisoning, which they had concerns about in the kea population.
Last year, five kea were found shot dead at Klondyke Corner, but the culprits were never found.
School to help kea conservation
Both the Department of Conservation and the school are keen to turn this unfortunate incident into a positive learning experience for all the students, said DOC Arthur's Pass Field Centre Supervisor Chris Stewart.
"The student and school have expressed their deep regret for the death of the kea and have offered to contribute to conservation projects and kea recovery."
At a meeting with Department of Conservation staff in Christchurch today, the boy handed over the dead bird and apologised for his actions.
Chisnallwood Intermediate School has pledged to initiate a whole-of-school project on kea as part of a conservation education programme, as well as investigate assembling the wooden parts of stoat traps as part of their science and technology classes.
Predators such as stoats and possums pose a key threat to kea, which nest in holes in the ground. The stoat traps will assist with predator control work being undertaken by DOC at Arthur's Pass.
The student will give a presentation on kea to the school, as well as assisting local DOC staff with a project during Conservation Week in September.
Stewart said that the Department did not intend to take the matter any further.
"We are comfortable that everyone involved has learnt a valuable lesson."
"Kea are New Zealand's only alpine parrot and they are endangered. They need all of our help to give them the best chance of survival."