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


A warm welcome is anticipated from the Wairarapa community on Friday when an RNZAF Hercules touches down at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome with up to 30 kiwi on board.

Date:  05 May 2010 Source:  A joint media release from the Department of Conservation, Pukaha Mount Bruce Board, and the BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust

A warm welcome is anticipated from the Wairarapa community when an RNZAF Hercules touches down at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome with up to 30 little brown kiwi on board on Friday.

Caught on Hauturu/Little Barrier Island over the past week, the North Island brown kiwi are destined for Pukaha Mount Bruce, to boost the gene pool, and increase the population of kiwi already reintroduced to the Pukaha forest. The transfer has been made possible through a huge community fundraising campaign.

One of these captive Pukaha kiwi will greet kiwi destined for the forest. Photo: Mike Heydon.
One of these captive Pukaha kiwi will
greet kiwi destined for the forest

A kiwi from Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre will also be on hand to greet the newcomers, along with the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board, Department of Conservation, Rangitane o Wairarapa and representatives from BNZ Save the Kiwi, who sponsor kiwi recovery nationwide.

Pukaha Mount Bruce Board chairman, Bob Francis invited the whole community to welcome the birds.

“We want to be able to share this historic occasion with the community, who have made this possible. The Flight of the Kiwi has been an amazing fundraising effort and we are grateful to all our supporters from near and far”.

These birds will help form the breeding foundation for a planned population of 500 kiwi at Pukaha.  Much of the money goes towards the ongoing pest control work which is critical to the survival and growth of endangered birds such as kiwi and kokako in the forest.  

Challenged by the logistics of transporting 30 kiwi over 650km from Auckland to Masterton, the Department of Conservation called on the Royal New Zealand Air Force for assistance.

A C130 Hercules aircraft from No 40 Squadron is on task at the time of the transfer and had the spare capacity to provide a swift and direct transfer from RNZAF Base Auckland to Hood Aerodrome in Masterton, DOC’s Wairarapa Area manager Chris Lester said.

“The RNZAF had the capacity and expertise to transfer this number of kiwi within the required timeframe, and directly from Auckland, which reduces stress on the birds.”

The Hercules is expected to land at Hood Aerodrome with its precious cargo at around 1.30pm and people turning up to greet them will have the chance to see a Pukaha resident kiwi. “Unfortunately we can’t introduce the newcomers as we don’t want to cause them any undue stress,” Mr Lester said.

Members of the public will be able to assemble in a fenced off area outside the Trust House Airport Terminal on Manaia Road.  Parking will be available in an area adjacent to the airfield.

The birds will be driven to Pukaha Mt Bruce and released into the forest later that day.


Nineteen captive-bred kiwi have been released into the Pukaha Forest since December 2003.

They first bred successfully in 2005, kick-starting a BNZ Operation Nest Egg™ programme for kiwi at Pukaha Mount Bruce. So far nine eggs have been collected from the Pukaha forest and hatched in captivity, with the resulting chicks reared in captivity until they are big enough to be released into the forest (Weighing 1200gm)

There are currently 24 birds in the forest - 15 males and 9 females. The introduction of the birds from Little Barrier Island will help enable the Pukaha forest population to be self-sustaining and robust enough to withstand threats that kiwi face in the wild, such as predation, weather events, and death by natural causes. It will also expand the genetic diversity of the Pukaha kiwi population.

Reintroducing kiwi and other rare native species to the forest is part of a major initiative by the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board, Department of Conservation, community and local councils to restore the Pukaha forest.

A community-wide campaign to raise $300,000 will support the ongoing restoration of the Pukaha Mount Bruce forest, including pest control. Dubbed Flight of the Kiwi the three-month campaign has involved a series of fundraising events and educational programmes throughout the Wairarapa and Tararua regions, culminating in The Great Kiwi Party held on Saturday 1 May at the Masterton Town Hall.

Additional facts about pest control at Pukaha Mount Bruce

  • Manages 130km of trap lines
  • Manages over 1000 bait stations for rats and possums
  • Manages over 500 traps for rats, ferrets,  stoats and weasels
  • Pest control is the most expensive thing we do

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 2008 alone, more than $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 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 website

Hauturu/Little Barrier Island Nature Reserve



Transfer of kiwi to Pukaha Mount Bruce: 
Kathy Houkamau +64 6 375 8756

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

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

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