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


Three new arrivals have been welcomed to the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project’s great spotted kiwi population.

Date:  25 March 2010

Three new arrivals have been welcomed to the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project’s great spotted kiwi population.

The three chicks, all coming up to four months of age, are the first BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ kiwi chicks to be added to the population in Nelson Lakes National Park. They had been taken as eggs from Kahurangi National Park’s Gouland Downs area in November and were hatched at Christchurch’s Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

The three young kiwi were moved into their new home in the Rotoiti “mainland island” by Department of Conservation staff today (25 March), as part of BNZ Save the Kiwi. Great spotted kiwi/roroa were first reintroduced into the project area in 2004 and the population now stands at 19, including four hatched in the wild there.

DOC Nelson Lakes ranger, Nik Joice, releases one of the three chicks into a burrow.
DOC Nelson Lakes ranger, Nik Joice,
releases one of the three chicks into
a burrow

DOC Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project team leader Grant Harper said the BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ programme provided an important means for increasing the Rotoiti kiwi population.

“The Rotoiti great spotted kiwi population is relatively small and pairs do not breed every year so it can take quite some time to build the population. BNZ Operation Nest Egg™, taking eggs from pairs in the wild and hatching the young in a wildlife centre, is a proven technique for boosting kiwi populations.

Grant said the three newly-arrived youngsters would be regularly monitored during their first weeks in the wild.

“Less is known about great spotted kiwi than most other kiwi species. Part of the benefit of bringing kiwi back to the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area has been to have a more accessible population with which conservation management techniques for this and other large kiwi species can be trialled. The more we learn about what works for great spotted kiwi, the more we can do to enable the survival of populations of the species.

“The release of these young kiwi straight into the wild is a valuable trial. Commonly kiwi chicks are put on an island or into a wildlife reserve ‘crèche’ until around one year of age and large enough to avoid predation by stoats. We are trialling releasing them directly into a mainland island in which trapping and other intensive pest control helps keep predator numbers low.

“At this age, the three chicks can feed themselves but unlike great spotted kiwi chicks in the wild they won’t be with parents for the first year of their lives. The main risk to them is stoat attack and we will be assessing how effective our stoat trapping programme is in protecting them from this.

“Research has shown our predator control work has resulted in more breeding success for kaka. Also there is no indication any of the Rotoiti wild- raised kiwi chicks have been killed by predators. This suggests that the three young kiwi should be relatively safe from predators but that is what we need to monitor and find out.”

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust was established in November 2002 by Bank of New Zealand 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 2009 alone, nearly $1 million 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 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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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

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