Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Department of Conservation staff have put additional traps in Nelson Lakes National Park’s Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area in their efforts to catch the killer of a great spotted kiwi.

Date:  28 September 2010

Department of Conservation staff have put additional traps in Nelson Lakes National Park’s Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area in their efforts to catch the killer of a great spotted kiwi.

A pathology report on the adult male kiwi found dead this month identified wounds likely to have been caused before its death indicating it died of predation. Due to the extent of decomposition it was not possible to determine exactly what animal killed it.

This is the first time a kiwi in the Rotoiti population is known to have died of predation in the six years since great spotted kiwi/roroa were first moved there. As part of BNZ Save the Kiwi, it is aimed to re-establish the species in the project area where intensive pest control is carried out over 5000 hectares to restore its native flora and fauna.

DOC Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project team leader Grant Harper said a ferret or a dog were the most likely animals to have killed the kiwi named Takaka but a feral cat was also a possibility.

“Great spotted kiwi are the largest kiwi species so in general are more able then other kiwi species to defend themselves against predators. Takaka was a particularly strong and feisty bird, weighing around 2.5 kilograms when he died, so it would have taken a fairly large animal to kill him.

“Should it be a ferret or feral cat, we are hoping to catch it in traps put in around the area where Takaka was killed, additional to the extensive trapping we already have in place.

 “Although dogs are not allowed in the national park, people sometimes still take them in or they roam into the park when running loose. Dogs are known killers of kiwi and we appeal to dog owners to keep dogs in the area under control and people should absolutely not take dogs into the national park.”

Owners of dogs found in the national park risk prosecution and a fine of up to $10,000 or 12 months in jail or both. There would be additional penalties under the Wildlife Act if the dog harmed or killed kiwi.

Grant said a closer watch was being kept on other kiwi.

“We are more regularly checking the radio transmitters on kiwi which as well as showing a bird’s location are designed to signal death. Thankfully, to date all the kiwi with transmitters are shown as being alive. Not all of the kiwi have radio transmitters so we are not able to keep track of all 21.

“Takaka’s death highlights the challenges of maintaining native bird populations in the wild. With all the hard work we put in to keep predator numbers low for the protection of the kiwi and other native species it is disappointing to lose one through predation. The reality is though birds can’t be completely protected from predators in an unfenced area and losses are to be expected.

“In reducing predator numbers we are giving wildlife within the project area a better chance of survival and being able to successfully breed young to build their population. Research has shown kaka have higher rates of survival and breeding success within the Rotoiti project area than outside it due to the intensive pest control.

“Five kiwi chicks are known to have hatched in the Rotoiti project area, adding to the population.

“Two kiwi have died from natural causes and such losses will naturally occur in populations. We want though to prevent and minimise as best we can deaths due to predation and we are keen to find the animal responsible for killing Takaka.”

BNZ save the Kiwi Trust

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust was established in November 2002 by Bank of New Zealand, Forest and Bird and the Department of Conservation, building on a sponsorship relationship that started in 1991.  BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust is responsible for public awareness and education, fundraising, sponsorship and grant allocations for kiwi recovery nationally. In 2010 alone, $880,000 was allocated to community and DOC kiwi projects. This money came from Bank of New Zealand, its staff, customers and supporters of BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust.

BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ is a powerful tool to reverse the decline of key kiwi populations.

Eggs and chicks are harvested from nests to save them from stoats and cats. The young kiwi are returned to the wild when they weight about 1kg, big enough to fight off these predators. More than 1200 kiwi chicks have been returned to the wild since the programme began in 1994, with captive facilities and hundreds of field workers from DOC and community groups throughout the country contributing to its success. The BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ egg harvesting>chick rearing>return to the wild technique was developed for kiwi through research funded solely by Bank of New Zealand and is now also used in other species recovery programmes.

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DOC media liaison: Trish Grant, phone +64 3 546 3146.

DOC national kiwi information: Avi Holzapfel phone +64 7 858 0019.

Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust: Michelle Impey, phone +64 9 375 1084 or 029 478 4610.

More information:

Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project


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