Kiwi head off to mul­ti­ply

The Northland Age - - Local News -

The ge­netic pool of Tanekaha’s kiwi pop­u­la­tion has been boosted with the re­lease of two more birds.

It is hoped that Alma and Hugh will find mates among the small but grow­ing kiwi pop­u­la­tion, and pro­duce chicks.

Their fresh genes will help to avoid prob­lems that can be as­so­ci­ated with in­breed­ing of small pop­u­la­tions and en­sure longterm vi­a­bil­ity of kiwi in the Tanekaha area.

Tanekaha Com­mu­nity Pest Con­trol Area co-or­di­na­tor Edwin Smith said he was was de­lighted to wel­come Alma and Hugh.

“More and more lo­cals are telling me about hear­ing kiwi call­ing at night on their farms,” he said, “and it is an hon­our to wel­come these two new kiwi into our area. I know our com­mu­nity will keep work­ing hard to keep them safe within our 800ha preda­tor-con­trolled area. We hope they will boost our kiwi pop­u­la­tion with many chicks over the years to come.”

The birds were named by the Tanekaha Com­mu­nity Pest Con­trol group in hon­our of long­time res­i­dents Hugh El­lis and Alma Lam­bert, both ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to the small farm­ing com­mu­nity north of Whangarei.

The kiwi had been caught on Matakohe-Lime­stone Is­land by ranger Emma Craig and ac­cred­ited kiwi han­dler Todd Hamil­ton. They were each given a health check and weighed to en­sure they were in good shape and ready to grad­u­ate from the is­land kiwi creche.

“Hugh is around 13 months old, while Alma is closer to two and a half years,” Emma said.

“This is get­ting close to breed­ing age, and ide­ally we don’t want kiwi breed­ing in the creche, so it was high time for them to grad­u­ate and re­turn to the main­land, where they can help boost other pop­u­la­tions.”

Todd said the res­i­dent kiwi pop­u­la­tion at Tanekaha, where 12 farm­ers were work­ing to­gether to con­trol preda­tors and main­tain good dog con­trol over 800ha, was grow­ing. See­ing Alma and Hugh at the re­lease, and be­ing next door to such a suc­cess­ful com­mu­nity-led kiwi project, had in­spired neigh­bour­ing farm­ers in the Huk­erenui area to es­tab­lish their own land­care group.

Dis­cus­sions were cur­rently tak­ing place with the North­land Re­gional Coun­cil biose­cu­rity team and Kiwi Coast to ex­plore fund­ing and sup­port op­tions to get the project up and run­ning.

“With the Huk­erenui farm­ers start­ing their own kiwi project, there is a pos­si­bil­ity that over the next few years we may be able to link the preda­tor trap­ping into a com­bined net­work stretch­ing over a few thou­sand hectares, Kiwi Coast co­or­di­na­tor Ngaire Tyson said.

“Kiwi can travel large dis­tances to find new mates and ex­plore new ter­ri­tory, and this would al­low them to do so in safety.”

Man­gonui woman Nissa Kake was very im­pressed to find a more­pork (ruru) peer­ing at her from its perch in a tree when she ar­rived home from work on a re­cent af­ter­noon. “Wickedly cool!” she said.


One last cud­dle for a kiwi called Alma be­fore her re­lease into the wild.

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