Icon un­der threat

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Cud­dling a kiwi chick is just like hold­ing a rugby ball – you need soft hands, Sir Gra­ham Henry says.

The for­mer All Blacks coach posed for a photo with a 9-day-old chick at Auck­land Zoo last week for the launch of the in­au­gu­ral Save the Kiwi Week, for which he is an am­bas­sador.

‘‘I feel very priv­i­leged. I guess not many peo­ple get to hold a kiwi chick,’’ Sir Gra­ham says.

‘‘It wrig­gles a bit but it’s not too bad if you know what you’re do­ing.

‘‘I have del­i­cate hands. I’m not called Ted for noth­ing, you know. I do have some cud­dly qual­i­ties. ‘‘I’m a big softie re­ally.’’ Mr Henry joined the Ki­wis for Kiwi Trust last year to raise aware­ness of the plight of our na­tional bird.

De­spite huge con­ser­va­tion ef­forts, an av­er­age of 27 kiwi are killed by preda­tors ev­ery week, the trust says.

Ex­perts be­lieve that at this rate, kiwi may dis­ap­pear from the main­land in our life­time.

‘‘Imag­ine that,’’ Sir Gra­ham says. ‘‘Then we’d have to find some­thing else as our na­tional sym­bol . . . like a wal­laby.

‘‘What’s pushed my but­tons is that they’re part of the na­tional iden­tity. Ev­ery­where you go, peo­ple know the kiwi – both the bird and the peo­ple.

‘‘I like them. They’re un­der­stated. They tend to hide away and only come out when it’s time for busi­ness. A lit­tle bit like Richie McCaw – he’s like that.’’

The push for Save the Kiwi Week is preda­tor con­trol.

A sin­gle roam­ing dog can wipe out a kiwi pop­u­la­tion in days.

In ar­eas where preda­tors are con­trolled, 50 to 60 per cent of chicks sur­vive.

In ar­eas not un­der man­age­ment, 95 per cent of kiwi die be­fore reach­ing breed­ing age.

The trust wants to raise $100,000 to­wards preda­tor con­trol.

Ki­wis for Kiwi ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Michelle Im­pey says Save the Kiwi Week, which was from Oc­to­ber 14 to 20, was also about rais­ing the na­tional icon’s pro­file.

‘‘Re­search car­ried out last year found that only half of New Zealan­ders knew that kiwi were in de­cline,’’ she says.

‘‘We can re­verse the de­cline. With sup­port from two-legged Ki­wis, our bird can flour­ish.’’

To make a dona­tion, to be in the draw to win a trip re­leas­ing kiwi back to the wild with Sir Gra­ham, to find out what is hap­pen­ing in your com­mu­nity and to find out how you can help, go to ki­w­is­for kiwi.org.

Photo: LAWRENCE SMITH

Up close: For­mer All Blacks coach Gra­ham Henry cud­dles a kiwi for a cam­paign to save our na­tional icon.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bournews. co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see for­mer All Blacks coach Gra­ham Henry cud­dle a kiwi.

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