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


Kiwi released at Pukaha Mount Bruce in May have produced their first offspring. In the last few days, the first three chicks of the year have hatched.

Date:  25 October 2010 Source:  Department of Conservation, Pukaha Mount Bruce Board, BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust

Kiwi released at Pukaha Mount Bruce in May have produced their first offspring. In the last few days, the first three chicks of the year have hatched.

After a couple of months of settling in and establishing territories, the adults from Hauturu /Little Barrier Island have been busy since August producing eggs.

Five fertile eggs were retrieved from nests and placed in the hatching facility at Pukaha Mount Bruce this season. The two remaining fertile eggs are expected to hatch within the next two weeks.

Kiwi at Pukaha Mount Bruce are getting a helping hand from the Department of Conservation through BNZ Operation Nest Egg™. This involves removing eggs from the wild to be hatched in captivity and then releasing the young kiwi back into the wild when they weigh 1kg, and are big enough to defend themselves against predators such as stoats.

The three chicks produced by wild kiwi at Pukaha are held by biodiversity programme manager Bruce Vander Lee, captive breeding programme manager Rosemary Vander Lee, and captive breeding ranger Vince Waanders.
DOC staff with the three chicks
produced by wild kiwi at Pukaha

In the wild, only 5 percent of chicks will make it to adulthood. Using BNZ Operation Nest Egg™, 65 percent will survive the vulnerable first year of life.

DOC Wairarapa Area Manager Chris Lester said after the loss of 12 kiwi to a ferret during the winter, the new births were a welcome addition to the local kiwi colony.

“It’s a graphic demonstration of the benefits accruing from the Hauturu/Little Barrier Island translocation. We’ve had some rough times this year, but to see these chicks fighting their way out into the world reinforces everything we are doing here – it’s great!”, Mr Lester said.

“We’ve worked closely with pest control experts to make sure that our pest control programme follows and meets national best practise standards. We’re confident that we’re doing everything within our power to ensure that these chicks, and all of our kiwi, are given the best possible chance to survive.”

“We’re aiming for a self-sustaining kiwi population at Pukaha,” Pukaha Mount Bruce Board chair Bob Francis explains. “Every chick that is born brings us closer to that goal.”

Since starting the BNZ Operation Nest EggTM programme in 2005, 10  fertile eggs have been collected from the Pukaha forest and hatched in captivity. 

There are currently 44 kiwi in the forest. They were first reintroduced there in 2003 as part of the Pukaha restoration programme.

Meanwhile visitors to Pukaha will soon be able to view the progress of chicks being reared in captivity. The BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ kiwi programme is being incorporated into the revamped kiwi nocturnal house at the National Wildlife Centre. When it opens in December, visitors will be able to see into the incubation room and the brooders where the kiwi chicks hatch and are looked after until they are returned to the forest.  A two-way intercom will enable visitors to interact with the rangers.

The $1.4 million upgrade and expansion of the nocturnal house is the second stage of a major revamp of the visitor centre.  The project is being undertaken by local contractor DR Borman Ltd. ENDS   

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust was established in November 2002 by Bank of New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and Forest & Bird, 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. Nearly $6 million in funding grants has been provided in total since 2003. 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 weigh about 1kg, big enough to fight off these predators. More than 1000 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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Pukaha Mount Bruce (DOC website)

Pukaha Mount Bruce website



Department of Conservation
Chris Lester, Ph: +64 6 377 0700

DOC national kiwi information
Avi Holzapfel, Ph: +64 7 858 0019

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust
Michelle Impey, Ph: +64 9 375 1084 or +64 29 478 4610

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