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Lisa Carrington On A Mission To Save The Kiwi

She’s one of New Zealand’s most famous sporting ‘Kiwis’, and now she’s joining the cause to save our namesake.

Today Lisa Carrington is announcing that she’s joining Save the Kiwi as an ambassador, to help raise awareness of the plight of the kiwi, how important this taonga is to all New Zealanders’ identities, and what people can do to help.

Carrington says it’s an honour to join a team that’s working hard to bring our national icon back from the brink.

“I knew the kiwi population was somewhat under threat, but I didn’t have a grasp on how dire the situation was. I’ve quickly realised action is needed now in order to prevent the kiwi population disappearing from the wild altogether. It has really hit home that without the kiwi we lose a huge chunk of our identity as New Zealanders and I want to do my part to stop that from happening.”

Today marks the first day of Save the Kiwi Week, which aims to teach New Zealanders that the cute, fluffy, flightless bird that we’ve taken onboard as our namesake, actually needs all ‘Kiwis’ to unite to ensure its survival.

Millions of kiwi used to roam Aotearoa’s forest floors. Today, that number hovers at around 68,000. Nationally, the kiwi population continues to decline at 2% annually – that’s around 20 birds a week.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says predators like stoats, ferrets, rats, and dogs have shifted the entire biodiversity of our forests and pose great danger to the kiwi.

“The kiwi was never meant to meet predators on the forest floor,” Ms Impey says. “A kiwi is small and flightless, and its defence is to sit still and blend in with the forest floor, so if a chick encounters a stoat, it’s essentially a sitting duck.

“In fact, only 5% of all chicks that hatch in unmanaged areas in the wild will make it to adulthood. It’s devastating to think that the other 95% of chicks and juveniles have been attacked and killed by creatures that were never meant to be here in the first place.”

While stoats are ‘public enemy number one’ to kiwi chicks, dogs are the biggest risk to adult birds, particularly in high-tourism areas like Northland and Coromandel. Part of Carrington’s involvement with Save the Kiwi will include an education campaign about dogs and kiwi over the summer holidays, featuring her own canine Colin.

Ms Impey says that if the hard mahi is done now, the kiwi population has the potential to not just survive but thrive.

“Where the work is being done, we are seeing results. In some parts of the country, populations are even increasing. But so much work still needs to be done to reverse the national decline and teach New Zealanders about the small things they can do every day to join the cause.

“A significant amount of Aotearoa’s forest remains unmanaged and kiwi remain at significant risk due to predators. When we have better predator control, kiwi populations will increase.

“And if this small, flightless, blind, vulnerable bird that sleeps during the day can thrive while living on the forest floor, then the rest of the forest’s wildlife will thrive too.”

Save the Kiwi officially rebrands from Kiwis for kiwi today too, as a literal nod to the daily mahi kiwi conservation groups and partners put into saving the kiwi.

“We are very excited about this new direction of our brand,” says Ms Impey. “We think the name change encapsulates our mission and creates more urgency about a cause that everyday New Zealanders can get behind.”

Carrington says being an ambassador for Save the Kiwi is one way she can give back to New Zealand after receiving so much support during her Olympic campaign earlier this year.

“This cause is important for all New Zealanders. I’m proud to get behind this mahi and hope that together, we can all work together to save the kiwi.”

For more information about Save the Kiwi (formerly Kiwis for kiwi) and to donate to the cause, visit www.savethekiwi.nz.

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