“Lets Get On With The Mahi”
Written by: Department of Conservation / Community Relations Angelika Cawte
Mayor Yvonne Sharp declared Kerikeri Kiwi Project officially open by stating that it was “time to get on with the ‘Mahi’ - the work of protecting the kiwi. “ at Aroha Island Kiwi Open Day on Sunday 17th.
The overwhelming community turnout highlighted just how keen people have become to protect our national icon, the kiwi. Nearly 200 local residents, visitors and dignitaries gathered at the picturesque Aroha Island Ecological Reserve to be part of the birth of the Kerikeri Kiwi Project - a community-led pest control scheme, operated by local residents on a voluntary basis.
Organized by the Aroha Island Ecological Centre (QEII National Trust), the NZ Kiwi Foundation and the Department of Conservation - the day began with local Tangata Whenua blessing this historic event and the Mayor declaring the day open. Throughout the day, specialists in kiwi protection from all over Northland offered first hand advice on kiwi protection and how to ensure that your land is “kiwi friendly”.
Informative displays and brochures ranging from “knowing your enemy” - mustelids, possums , wild cats and dogs to control and trapping techniques were available. As well as possum fur plucking and trained predator dog demonstrations. Kids were greatly entertained while their parents were busy with a Possum Shy game and face painting with cheeks that featured a kiwis.
All activities came to a standstill though, when a young kiwi stole the hearts of revering onlookers. Found hidden in woodpile near the Centre by Gemma, the trained kiwi dog of DOC ranger Tom Herbert, the 9 months old youngster was brought back to the main tent for a close health inspection, banding and fitting of a radio transmitter. After a successful test and demonstration of the tracking transmitter and a trip to the vet for a blood sample the young kiwi was released back on the Island.
“It is a great relief to see the community getting actively involved in kiwi protection” stated Lindsay Charman from the BNZ Kiwi Recovery Programme, Kerikeri,. “ We have come a long way from humble beginnings of door-knocking. In those days the message of the plight of the kiwi often yielded mixed responses. Today the Kerikeri Kiwi Project, one of New Zealand’s leading community initiatives.
“We are keen for people to understand that every person living in or near a kiwi habitat can make a difference, even with very little extra effort” explained NZ Kiwi Foundation convenor Greg Blunden.
“Anyone interested in getting involved in kiwi protection can contact Aroha Island Ecological Centre on 09 407 5243 or the Department of Conservation, Kerikeri Office on 09 407 8474.”