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Successful Kiwi Release at Bream Head

8 October 2000

Successful Kiwi Release at Bream Head

Six North Island brown kiwi were successfully released into Bream Head Scenic Reserve near Whangarei on Saturday, marking the first release into one of the country’s five specially designated kiwi sanctuaries.

The release began with a formal powhiri for the birds by Ngatiwai into whose rohe the birds were being brought. About 120 people gathered for the occasion which signals a major step forward for kiwi conservation in the area.

Local school children in particular have been thrilled by the release of the birds, with plans to keep track of the birds’ movements with the help of a Department of Conservation kiwi specialist.

Sue Bell, who works for the Bank of New Zealand sponsored Kiwi Recovery Programme will be visiting the reserve regularly to track the movements of the birds using a special device that can pick up signals from the radio transmitters attached to their legs.

The kiwi, all of which were hatched at the Auckland Zoo using the special Operation Nest Egg programme, have been raised at both the zoo and on Motuora Island near Warkworth coast. Staff from the zoo were on hand to say farewell to their former charges.

Operation Nest Egg is a project where kiwi eggs are salvaged from the wild (kiwi can lay two eggs a season) and hatched in captivity. They are then transferred to predator free offshore islands before being released into the wild when they are at an age and size where they are able to fend for themselves.

Children from two local schools released two of the birds, with the rest being released by DoC staff.

DoC Whangarei Area community relations officer Gerry Brackenbury said he was thrilled to have the support of the local community and iwi for the project which will eventually see more birds released into the area.

“It is so important that we have the support of the community and iwi for this project,” he said.

Money for the kiwi protection work that will continue in the area is coming from the Government’s recent biodiversity funding package as well as the BNZ sponsored Kiwi Recovery Programme.

The ongoing work includes pest and predator control of mustelids like stoats, ferrets and weasels as well as cats and possums. Dog control is also critical and Mr Brackenbury said this is where the support for the community was so vital.

“We need the community and people visiting the reserve and areas near the reserve to be vigilant at all times when it comes to dogs as kiwi just don’t stand a chance with them,” he said.

The North Island brown kiwi are the most common of the species although their numbers are declining due to the effects of predation, dogs, road kills and habitat clearance.

People wanting to know more information about the Kiwi Recovery Programme can find this on the website www.bnzkiwirecovery.org.nz .

For more information please contact Wanda Vivequin on (09) 4302465

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