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First Kiwi Chicks From The Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche

First Kiwi Chicks Released From The Pan Pac Kiwi Creche

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Wendy and the chick

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First Kiwi Chicks Released From The Pan Pac Kiwi Creche

The first two kiwi chicks were released from the Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche and returned to the Hawke’s Bay wilderness today, Friday 4 July 2008.

The kiwi chicks arrived at the brand new predator proof Kiwi crèche at just 20 days old and now, at five months old, they have grown to a “stoat proof” weight and are ready for the wild.

Around 60 invited guests, supporters and locals attended the event, which included the blessing of the chicks before they were transported to the Kaweka Forest Park and released into the bush. This is a major milestone for Hawke’s Bay and for the local charitable organisation, the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED). ECOED has been working with the local community, the Department of Conservation and the Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust to retain and restore a wild population of kiwi in Hawke’s Bay.

With less than 500 kiwi left in the wild in Hawke’s Bay, North Island brown kiwi are now effectively extinct south of Hawke’s Bay and nationally kiwi are declining at six per cent per annum. The Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche is critical to reversing the decline of kiwi in Hawke’s Bay.

ECOED Trust Chairman, Mathew Lawson, said the release of the first kiwi chicks signified a new era in kiwi conservation in Hawke’s Bay. "Newly hatched chicks rescued from the wild grow up safe in a natural, pest-free environment, and then are returned to the wild, tough, streetwise and ready to beat up stoats”.

The Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche is 40 hectares in size and surrounded by a 3.3 kilometre long pest proof fence that excludes anything from mice to cattle and everything in between.

General Manager of ECOED, Alastair Bramley, said the project in creating the crèche and releasing the first kiwi from it has been a massive community effort. He said the strong support from the local Tutira community throughout the project has been invaluable.

The major supporters of the project include the Infinity Foundation Ltd, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Eastern and Central Community Trust. In addition, Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd recently came on board to support the maintenance and development of the crèche.

The ECOED ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay’ plan includes locating and monitoring wild kiwi, recovering chicks and raising the chicks to approximately 800 grams in the crèche before returning them to the wild. At 800 grams a wild kiwi is able to defend itself against the most common predator, stoats.

"The Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche has made it much easier to raise kiwi and to release them back into the wild. The project is an important step towards saving the Hawke's Bay kiwi population and we're just delighted with the support for this project from across the Hawke's Bay community," said Mr Bramley.

ECOED plans to use the crèche to promote environmental and outdoor education in Hawke’s Bay, utilising the 36 hectares of neighbouring land purchased with the Department of Conservation. ECOED Trust Chairman, Matthew Lawson, said “the vision is to have Hawke’s Bay students learning, conserving and challenging themselves in the natural environment, supported by their community”. To date ECOED, in conjunction with the Endeavour Community Trust, has provided $250,000 of subsidy funding for outdoor education direct to schools across Hawke’s Bay.


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