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Con.Minister Meets With ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’

17 June 2004

Conservation Minister meets with ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’

The Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED) today met with the Minister of Conservation to discuss the ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’ project and the latest initiative to create a $550,000, 33 hectare predator-free area for raising kiwi chicks for subsequent return into the wild.

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.

Executive Director of the Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust, Kieron Goodwin, welcomed the Minister’s interest in the programme, which Mr Goodwin describes as “one of the most significant community projects being undertaken nationally”.

ECOED Trust Chairman, Matthew Lawson, noted that “the North Island brown kiwi is extinct in New Zealand south of Hawkes Bay and, like the national kiwi population, is in serious decline”.

ECOED, in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, raised 18 kiwi chicks in Hawkes Bay last breeding season. On the 27th March 2004, it released the first kiwi chick ‘Puk’, a 20-week old North Island brown kiwi.

Since then eight more juvenile kiwi have been released, with another nine more to go over the next few months.

The next phase of ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’, involves the construction of a 3.2 km predator fence at Lake Opouahi Scenic Reserve. This fence will allow kiwi chicks to be raised free from the risk of predation and become conditioned to their natural environment until they are old enough to defend themselves against stoats.

Mr Lawson said the Kiwi Creche project is a partnership between, the Department of Conservation, Hawkes Bay Regional Council and the community.

“We will work together to boost kiwi numbers and to maximise opportunities to use the project for environmental education across schools and the community,” he said.

Thanks to the support of the Century Foundation Ltd and the Hawkes Bay Regional Council, ECOED has raised $400,000 of the required $550,000 for the fence project and proposes to begin construction next Spring.

The Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay project received a set-back in April when one of the monitored breeding adult female kiwi was killed by a dog in the Kaweka Forest Park.

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,” Mr Lawson said.

ENDS

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