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Significant milestone reached for Kiwi population

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A significant milestone has been reached today in the bid to save kiwi from extinction.

The 100th kiwi was released on to Motutapu Island, marking the halfway point in Kiwis for kiwi’s strategy to stock the island as a future source of kiwi for release to safe places in the Coromandel.

Michelle Impey, executive director of Kiwis for kiwi said the aim is to fast track population growth by lifting eggs from monitored kiwi in the wild, incubating in captivity and releasing the chicks to predator-free kōhanga kiwi sites.

"Kōhanga kiwi sites are predator free and usually an island or fenced sanctuary. The kiwi remain there permanently, and will find a partner and have kiwi chicks of their own. Eventually the site will start to fill and the excess juveniles will be removed annually and released to the wild," said Ms Impey.

Currently, it would take 50 years or more for these sites to reach capacity but Kiwis for kiwi aims to reduce that to 5-10 years.

The five week old, yet to be named, #100 kiwi chick has come as an egg from community led kiwi conservation group, Project Kiwi Trust on Kuaotunu Peninsula, Coromandel. This is just one of the volunteer groups who are dedicating their time, energy and funds to saving kiwi.

Brett Butland, chair of Motutapu Restoration Trust said the hard work of the Trust and the community kiwi projects is what is propelling the programme forward at a significant rate.

"We are half way to establishing a founding population that we can then start to harvest from and disperse birds to suitable sites around the upper North Island. Magic doesn’t happen on its own. People coming together for a common cause makes it happen," said Mr Butland.

"We’re really excited about the progress made and are working hard to increase habitat suitable for kiwi. We would like to encourage Aucklanders to come over and help us. We’re always looking for people of all ages and abilities to carry out weeding, planting and monitoring on the island. The quicker we can get the job done, the faster our success."

The first kiwi was released on Motutapu Island in 2012. Motutapu is a kōhanga site and the programme to release kiwi to the island is a working partnership between Kiwis for kiwi, Ngāi tai ki Tāmaki , Motutapu Restoration Trust, the Department of Conservation and the many community projects on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Billy Brown, secretary of the Ngāi tai ki Tāmaki Trust said "we are extremely proud to be part of this great kaupapa. This is a huge milestone for all involved to celebrate, around the future preservation of these beautiful taonga for many generations to come."

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