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A very special kiwi released in the Pukaha forest.

On Sunday a very special kiwi was released into the 942-hectare forest at Pukaha Mount Bruce, National Wildlife Centre. Located 20 minutes north of Masterton Pukaha is a National wildlife centre based in a protected forest restoration project that participates in conservation breeding programmes for many endangered and vulnerable New Zealand wildlife, including kiwi.

OnSunday the Pukaha rangers released Turua. Turua had resided in the nocturnal aviary at Pukaha Mount Bruce for the last 6 years. He had thrilled many visitors over the years with his aviary mate, Manukura, the rare white kiwi who still resides at Pukaha Mount Bruce.

Turua was kiwi royalty, as he was the chosen male that joined Manukra, the rare white kiwi in the nocturnal aviary at Pukaha in May 2012. The pair were placed in an "arranged marriage" and it was hoped they would become a breeding pair of kiwi. At the time both kiwi were to young to think about breeding. A kiwi will usually start breeding between 3-5 years old and it was hoped they would then fall in love and seal the deal with an offspring.

Turua was selected for this honor as he was very close in age to Manukura, the rare white kiwi and history records showed they were not related anywhere down the track.

Once the pair were introduced in the nocturnal house aviary, it is fair to say that Manukura was much more interested in Turua then he was in her. Manukura, the female kiwi attempts at play and her games of chase and wrestle (yes kiwi wrestle!) were never well received by Turua. Turua remained what appeared to be happy and healthy, so the Pukaha rangers waited for him to come around to Manukura's advances.

After years of "togetherness" Turua and Manukura did start to display some mating behaviour. He had started calling to her, just as a wild male would do in the forest. Manukura had even started digging her own burrow, another sign that she was preparing for breeding. The Pukaha rangers were very hopeful at this stage that Turua and Manukura would indeed breed.

Late last year Turua started to appear quite "stressed" in the aviary environment. He had started losing weight and spending a lot of his time hiding. The Pukaha rangers were hopeful that it was just a "lovers spat" and Turua and Manukura would be happily coupled up again but, unfortunately their love story was just not meant to be.
As Turua's happiness and health was starting to be compromised the decision was made to give him "a break" from Manukura and to move him to the kiwi pre- release aviaries. Once out of the aviary and the arranged relationship, Turua once again started to thrive. He put on weight, stopped hiding at night and his normal happy kiwi behaviour resumed. The only answer to his compromised health situation was that his arranged marriage with Manukura was the causing him stress.
The decision was made to not put Turua back into the nocturnal house aviary and after transitioning him to live “wild” he would be released into the Pukaha forest.

The future looks bright for these two kiwi. They have moved on and gone their separate ways. Manukura has recently had a new "potential boyfriend" move into the nocturnal aviary at Pukaha. He is a rather feisty male kiwi named, Frickleton (he is named after a war hero!). Turua regained his weight and after spending enough time living as a "wild" kiwi in the kiwi pre-release enclosures was released on Sunday.

The release of this rather special kiwi to Pukaha was a hard one for the rangers who for the last 6 years have looked after this little guy. They had transitioned him well to wild life and sent him with wishes for a long happy life and the hope that he will meet the love of his life out in the Pukaha forest.

Lead kiwi ranger Jess Flamy, who has cared for Turua in the nocturnal aviary for the last 5 years was the releasing ranger. "No matter how many kiwi you release back into the wild, you still feel like a parent sending your kids off into the big wild world". Commented lead kiwi ranger, Jess Flamy. "Turua's release will always be special to me as I cared for him on a daily basis for over 5 years. I will be watching his progress with pride and left him with wishes for a long and beautiful wild life."

Jess was accompanied by a father and daughter who "won" the right to be part of this very special release on TradeMe. The father and daughter bid on this auction that is part of a series of auctions for amazing Pukaha experiences up for grabs on Trademe. The auctions are to help top up the fund for our forest restoration project during the difficult ferret season.

Pukaha hits the ferret season hard by engaging in cutting edge technology and an increased trapping programme in the fight to keep our forest safe. This demands extra funds to achieve the desired outcome of no ferrets getting into the Pukaha boundaries.


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