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BNZ Comes To The Rescue For Kiwi

MEDIA RELEASE 7 JULY 1999


Conservation Minister Nick Smith today welcomed the Bank of New Zealand's renewed commitment to the Kiwi Recovery Programme, during a function at Auckland Zoo. The BNZ has been a sponsor since 1991 and has today extended that commitment for a further three years.

"BNZ is backing our national icon, the kiwi, with serious funding that makes a real difference to these threatened species. Kiwi numbers have collapsed from an estimated 12 million to less than 70,000 as a consequence of the loss of habitat and pest introduction. The BNZ's support contributes to all three areas of the Kiwi Recovery Programme; science - to understand the kiwi and what it needs to survive in the wild today; action - to put science into practice; and education, through school programmes and the award winning kiwi recovery website."

The Kiwi Recovery Programme gives kiwi chicks a helping hand through their critical first six months of life. In an innovative project called Operation Nest Egg, eggs or very young chicks are taken from the wild, reared in captivity or on predator-free islands, and then returned to their original homes once they are big enough to deal with their two main enemies, stoats and cats. Thirty four chicks have been successfully raised this year through Operation Nest Egg, with their chances of survival increased from 5% to 85%.

"The BNZ and its customers have donated about $3 million since the programme began in 1991. Kiwi recovery is one of our top priorities and so Government has matched the BNZ's investment in this important programme. This year's budget also saw a $6.6 million investment in stoat research to control one of the kiwi's biggest killers. The involvement of Bank of New Zealand gives a positive signal to the business community and should be welcomed by all New Zealanders, and certainly by all kiwis. We need to get the message out that conservation of kiwi and other special native wildlife is a shared cause."

Bank of New Zealand Manager Director Mike Pratt said the Bank is very enthusiastic about being involved with this programme at a time when the kiwi are facing so many challenges.

"It's wonderful to see the benefits this programme is bringing to kiwi populations, since we began our involvement eight years ago. However, the statistics say it all - it's not time to celebrate kiwi survival just yet. About 95 per cent of kiwi chicks still don't make it to six months of age without protection from predators like stoats. That's why Operation Nest Egg is so important. The Bank of New Zealand is proud of its commitment to New Zealand's natural heritage and believes its partnership with Forest & Bird and the Department of Conservation is the key to conservation in the next millennium."

ENDS

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