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First kiwi hatch at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

Special delivery: First kiwi hatch at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary
12 September 2008

Staff and TOSSI volunteers at the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, at Tawharanui Regional Park north of Warkworth, are standing by to welcome the first wild-born kiwi to hatch on the Auckland mainland in nearly 60 years.

In recent weeks ‘egg timer’ transmitters, fitted to some of the North Island brown kiwi that live in the park, have given an incubation activity signal for two male birds. Further investigation has confirmed that the eggs being incubated by fathers ‘Hercules’ and ‘Geo’ are viable and likely to hatch soon.

ARC Parks and Heritage Committee Deputy Chair Christine Rose says the possibility of the first kiwi hatching at Tawharanui in the near future comes with both excitement and anxiety.

“It is incredibly exciting to have kiwi back in the wild, on the Auckland mainland after so many decades, and the fact that they are breeding.

“The news from the transmitters is very encouraging, but we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch or put too much stress on the expectant parents!” she says.

Open Sanctuary Coordinator Matt Maitland says if incubation goes to full term a hatch date would be about mid September but it should be noted that not all eggs hatch, even in the absence of predators. One infertile egg was incubated for two months last year.

“Successful breeding is critical to our goal of a self sustaining kiwi population that can in turn help establish new populations in the Auckland region. This is an important milestone in the ecological restoration of Tawharanui Open Sanctuary,” he says.

Tawharanui Regional Park staff and Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society (TOSSI) volunteers are carefully monitoring the progress of the sanctuary’s kiwi population, but from a distance. The incubation and hatch of any eggs in the park will be carried out naturally in the burrows created by the birds themselves.

Fifteen kiwi were released into the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary in November 2006, signalling the return of North Island brown kiwi to the Auckland mainland for the first time in around 60 years. They were joined in November 2007 by another 25 birds.

All birds are raised via Operation Nest Egg from wild northland stock. A further five females will be released at Tawharanui to address a gender imbalance. Several of these birds are expected this month from Matakohe/Limestone Island in Whangarei Harbour.

The Tawharanui Open Sanctuary was officially opened in March 2006 and is the result of a pest eradication programme, replanting regime and vital partnership between the ARC and TOSSI.


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