Takamoana, a one kilogram juvenile male North Island brown kiwi, was released into thick bush in the Maungataniwha Native Forest in inland Hawke's Bay on the weekend by New Zealand model, actress and mother Rachel Hunter. The bird was the 100th kiwi to be hatched and released into the wild by the Forest Lifeforce Restoration (FLR) Trust, fast carving out a name for itself as one of the most prolific and successful kiwi conservation initiatives in the country. It's marking its sixth season using BNZ Operation Nest Egg, a method which sees kiwi eggs rescued from the wild, incubated in a safe environment and the resulting chicks released when they're large enough to defend themselves against stoats.
"Normally we'd expect the rearing and release of this many kiwi to take twice as long," said Michelle Impey, executive director of BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust. "The FLR Trust team have got it down to a fine art and it's wonderful that some of the chicks released three or four years ago are now breeding themselves - further adding to the population."
Fifty of the Trust's 100 kiwi chicks have been released back into the Trust's Maungataniwha Native Forest, where the eggs came from, and 50 have been relocated to the Cape Kidnappers and Ocean Beach Preserve.
Ms Hunter, a keen and vocal advocate for conservation projects around the world, was installed as the FLR Trust's patron at this weekend's event.
The kiwi she released was named after an influential local Maori chief in the 1800s. Karaitiana Takamoana was also the great-great-grandfather of Simon Hall, executive Chairman of food manufacturer Tasti Foods and the driving force behind the FLR Trust.
In addition to the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project the Trust runs a series of native flora and fauna regeneration projects. These include a drive to increase the wild-grown population of Kakabeak (Clianthus maximus), an extremely rare type of shrub, and the re-establishment of native plants and forest on 4,000 hectares currently, or until recently, under pine.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson said the work undertaken by the FLR Trust was indicative of co-operation developing all over the country between private land owners and the Department of Conservation.
DOC�Conservator for the region Alan McKenzie said privately-funded conservation and regeneration projects were "without doubt" the way of the future.�He said while DOC could maintain the status quo, a step-change in the re-establishment of native species would require significant investment that�the private sector could deliver. DOC would be working extensively in future with business, along with community organisations, iwi and other agencies, to�leverage the conservation dollar.
"We see our role as facilitating this, and working with organisations such as the FLR Trust to establish the framework for a national model," McKenzie�said. He acknowledged the�FLR Trust as a conservation leader and an outstanding example for others.
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