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Release kicks off project to save Hawkes Bay kiwi

27 March 2004

Release kicks off project to save Hawkes Bay kiwi

A new community trust today launched an historic project to save the Hawkes Bay kiwi population with the first release of a kiwi chick into the Kaweka Forest Park.

The release of ‘Puk’, a 20-week old North Island brown kiwi, will be the first of more than 10 kiwi to be released in the Hawkes Bay this season. The release marks the launch of the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust’s (ECOED’s) project to retain and restore a wild kiwi population in the Hawkes Bay.

Executive Director of the Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust, Kieron Goodwin, described the project as “one of the most significant community projects being undertaken nationally”.

The ECOED ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’ plan includes locating and monitoring wild kiwi, recovering eggs, incubating them offsite and raising the chicks to 20 weeks old in a predator free ‘crèche’ before returning them to the wild.

The project was hatched in July 2002 by Hawkes Bay Outdoor Educator Alastair Bramley and Tamsin Ward-Smith from the Department of Conservation. Together they approached the ECOED Trust for assistance and, after 18 months of planning, fundraising and fieldwork, the project is now a reality.

During the entire egg recovery, chick rearing and release process, the Trust involves local schools and the community in the programme. As kiwi densities increase, ECOED plans to introduce predator control to allow the kiwi to breed naturally.

ECOED Trust Chairman, Matthew Lawson, said the Trust and the Department of Conservation will work together to boost kiwi numbers and to maximise opportunities to use the project for environmental education across schools and the community.

Mr Lawson said the Hawkes Bay had a largely unspoiled natural environment but was on the back foot when it came to maintaining its kiwi population.

“The North Island brown kiwi is extinct in New Zealand south of Hawkes Bay and, like the national kiwi population, is in serious decline,” said Mr Lawson.

New Zealand’s kiwi population is declining at six per cent per year with 95 per cent of kiwi chicks born in the wild dying. The Department of Conservation alone does not have the resources to prevent kiwi becoming extinct on the mainland.

“There are currently considered to be less than 100 kiwi living in Hawkes Bay, with only 37 located in the Kawekas to date. This project is an opportunity for the Hawkes Bay community to achieve something very special, and we encourage people to get involved and support us,” he said.

Mr Lawson said the next phase of the project would involve the development of a 30-hectare predator-free kiwi crèche at Lake Opouahi Scenic Reserve. This will enable kiwi chicks to become conditioned to their natural environment and old enough to defend themselves against stoats.

Supporters of Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay

The ECOED ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’ project has been made possible through the generous support of the following organisations:

* the Century Foundation,

* the Hawkes Bay Regional Council,

* the Department of Conservation,

* the Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust,

* Rainbow Springs,

* local businessman Andy Lowe,

* the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society,

* The Kiwi Adventure Company.

Introducing the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust

The Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED) is a charitable trust formed to ensure Hawkes Bay school children can access safe, quality outdoor education experiences.

The Trust has developed a pioneering outdoor education programme, believed to be the first of its type in New Zealand, which provides funding assistance to schools for environmental education, and combines environmental learning with conservation projects.

Trust Chairman, Matthew Lawson, said the ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’ project was an example of the type of cutting-edge community projects the Trust would promote.

“Our goals are to preserve and open up the best of the outdoors for youth and their families, and to sustainably develop the Hawkes Bay’s tourism potential,” he said.

Mr Lawson said the Trust would develop, lead and coordinate - rather than deliver - outdoor education programmes.

“The ECOED’s role will be to coordinate the planning, employment, community funding and promotion of both outdoor education and community conservation programmes across the Hawkes Bay,” he said.

“The ECOED programme will result in Hawkes Bay becoming a recognised leader in the development of community conservation and environmental education.”

The ECOED is currently providing $50,000 of subsidy funding, with support from the Century Foundation and the Heretaunga National Community and Sports Trust, for adventurous outdoor education programmes for form one and two students.

The Trust has also purchased $10,000 of outdoor equipment and plans are in the pipeline to eventually provide a common pool of equipment - from canoes to camping gear - so schools are not burdened with additional costs and duplication is minimised.

The initiative for the Trust came about as a result of the gradual withdrawal of schools from adventurous outdoor programmes, due to rising costs and increased liability for school boards of trustees.

“Most schools simply don’t have the staff to implement quality, safe outdoor education programmes. The low student to instructor ratio requirements and stretched school budgets mean subsidy funding is required if these programmes and opportunities are to be accessible for Hawkes Bay students,” said Mr Lawson.

However the wider community is also facing increasing restrictions on access to outdoor experiences. Trustee and Regional Councillor, Rex McIntyre, who has a large cave system on his Nuhaka farm, said he used to allow large numbers of groups onto his farm to visit the caves but increasing risk management obligations have forced him to reconsider open access.

Mr McIntyre is concerned youth of the future may miss out on outdoor experiences, if affordable and skilled instructors are not available to facilitate the activities.

Sport Hawke’s Bay has endorsed ECOED’s efforts to provide an improved quality and range of opportunities for young people to experience the outdoors.

Matthew Lawson said the trustees believe there is a great opportunity to more closely link outdoor education with conservation and environmental education.

“We have a fantastic natural outdoor resource and a largely unspoiled natural environment in Hawkes Bay and we are determined that locals and visitors to the area can continue to fully experience it,” he said.

The ECOED trustees, representing all districts in Hawkes Bay, are:

Matthew Lawson, (Trust Chairman), Partner,

Willis Toomey Robinson, Napier lawyer,

Tim Gilbertson, Mayor, Central Hawkes Bay District Council

Rex McIntyre, Councillor, Hawkes Bay Regional Council

John O’Shaughnessy, Planning Manager, Napier City Council

Colin Stone, Chief Executive, Sport Hawkes Bay

Diane Taylor, Deputy Principal, Taradale Intermediate School

ENDS

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