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Historic first for Save Our Kiwi Hawke’s Bay

23 November 2006

Historic first for Save Our Kiwi Hawke’s Bay

A project aimed at restoring a wild kiwi population in Hawke’s Bay last night celebrated a major milestone, with the recovery of the project’s first ever second generation kiwi chick from the wild.

The recovery is historic in that the chick, named Willems, is the offspring of the first kiwi chick, named ‘Puk’, which was taken from the Kaweka Forest Park, raised in captivity and released back into the Kawekas in 2004.

The project is run by the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED). Chairman of ECOED, Matthew Lawson, said last night’s chick recovery showed the impact the project was having towards restoring a wild Kiwi population.

“The team involved in this project have now taken 44 Kiwi chicks from the Kawekas, raised them to the point at which they can defend themselves against predators and released them back into their environment,” he said.

The project is particularly important as 95 per cent of Kiwi chicks born in the wild will be killed by predators, mainly stoats. However, once Kiwi chicks reach a weight of 800 grams, the chicks can then defend themselves against stoats

“We are delighted that the first Kiwi chick taken from the forest and re-released has partnered with another wild Kiwi and produced its own chick. The arrival of Willems and his successful recovery is a triumph for all of the volunteers involved in this project, and great news for Kiwi in Hawke’s Bay,” said Mr Lawson.

This season, the project team have already recovered another nine Kiwi chicks which are currently being reared, and a further nine nests are being monitored.

The chick is named after the local Willems family, which has been involved with all aspects of the project since it’s inception in 2003.

Mr Lawson said ECOED’s next job was to complete the $700,000, 40 hectare predator-free ‘kiwi crèche’ being constructed at Lake Opouahi, just north of Napier. Once complete in October next year, all kiwi chicks recovered from the wild will spend the first six months of their lives at Opouahi, safe from predators, before being returned to the wild.

ECOED is a local charitable trust that was formed to provide assistance to local environmental and outdoor education efforts. ECOED is supported by the Department of Conservation, and funded through the generous donations from the Hawke’s Bay Community. Key financial supporters include a mix of local community and business groups, including the Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Eastern and Central Community Trust, Hawke’s Bay Proteins, Birdwood’s Gallery, Rainbow Springs, Century Foundation, Heretaunga Community Trust and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

ENDS

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