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


The Matawai and Motu communities have celebrated Arbor Day and Matariki.

Date:  16 June 2010

While most hibernate indoors for June’s wintery start, the Matawai and Motu communities have kicked into Matariki getting outdoors in the wet cold conditions to celebrate Arbor Day and the release of “Kohu” the female Kiwi Chick into the Whinray Scenic Reserve.

Although the official Arbor Day is celebrated on Saturday the 5th of June, the day before Matawai School planted native trees to encourage birdlife into the school grounds and for their aesthetic quality. It was much the same for Matawai Marae the following Friday on another wet cold day both Matawai and Motu school and community members planted native species around the Marae grounds. A Rongoa (maori medicinal) garden was planted at the back of the marae, with species such as kawakawa, makomako, koromiko and karamu. Both planting days were sponsored by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Mrs Kate Barbarich from Matawai Marae has been involved with the Marae for a number of years and has seen the Marae develop gradually from renovation projects.

“This is Awesome” Mrs Barbarich comments on the planting day “because it brings the community together, even in the rain. The plants have added so much more value to the Marae.”

Following the Matawai Marae planting, the Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust (WECT) invited the community to celebrate the release of one of their whangai (fostered child), “Kohu” the Kiwi Chick.

The Trust became involved with Kohu in November 2009 when they retrieved two Kiwi eggs from one of their monitored males “Mac”. DOC Ranger involved with the Whinray Kiwi project, Joe Waikari, candled one of the eggs to be 65-68 days old, but unfortunately the second egg was cold. As the Kiwi team came down from the ranges to their vehicles the mist started to set in, hence her name becoming ‘Kohu - mist’.

Joe Waikari holding Kohu the kiwi chick. Photo: Kylie Cranston.
Joe Waikari holding Kohu the kiwi chick

Bright and early the next morning, Kohu was transported to ‘Kiwi Encounter’ in Rotorua. Although the Whinray Scenic Reserve has a pest control programme, the odd pests tend to get through so the technology and expertise at Kiwi Encounter, give kiwi eggs the best possible chance to reach their hatching stage. This process is generously supported by the BNZ Save The Kiwi Trust and is part of their Operation Nest Egg ™ programme. Kohu hatched on the 2nd December 2009 weighing 312 gm. Three weeks later, Kohu returned home to the Motu and since December has been raised in the Motu Kiwi Enclosure.
Maria Barbarich-Waikari one of the WECT Kiwi team and Foster mum to Kohu describes her as a “Feisty Chick”. “She has been fed on a diet of fat free ox heart, porridge, wheat germ, carrots, beans, broccoli, peas, corn, courgettes, apples, pears, cat biscuits and mealworms. Kiwi chicks are fussy and will not eat the prepared mix if something is left out!” Maria describes. “Feeding chicks is a daily chore,  that you fit into your day. The amount of food given is increased gradually. As chicks get closer to an ideal 1200gm release weight the amount of kai is decreased.”

“Kohu is the fifth kiwi chick to be released by the Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust” says Maria. “This is where the first part of our journey with Kohu ends. From here she will be monitored fortnightly for the first month and then again every three months”.

Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust Chairperson Graeme Rylott acknowledged BNZ Save The Kiwi Trust for their support and to volunteer members and their families who give of their time, commitment and expertise to the Whinray kiwi project.

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