Thanks to 40 students from Hurunui College in North Canterbury, three young great spotted kiwi / roroa will be released into the Nina valley this Saturday.
Teacher, Tim Kelly, is as excited as his students.
“It’s payday for these guys today, after three years of hard work and initiative,” he said, “but it doesn’t stop here. Now we have young birds in the valley there is even more pressure on us to keep the kiwi killers out!”
Great spotted kiwi/roroa chick
Hurunui College started the project in the Nina valley after DOC biodiversity ranger, Malcolm Wylie, visited. The students and community then set up the Nina Valley Restoration Group involving students, parents and teachers from Hurunui College.
Support from BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust and Kids restore New Zealand, a programme under the Air New Zealand Environment Trust, as well as generous local businesses, has been crucial for the project.
Executive Director of the BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, Michelle Impey, is deeply impressed by how much the students have achieved.
“This shows us all what we can do if we put our minds to it—communities and young people working with business to support conservation.”
"The trust is very keen to inspire and encourage more young people to follow Hurunui College's example and get actively involved—whether starting their own project or supporting an existing one.
We have a brilliant new resource called 'Kiwi Forever' available, specifically to support projects of this kind. I would urge teachers to use it!"
Most of the work done by the group so far has been trapping and monitoring stoats.
“This is vital if kiwi are to survive in the area,” said Malcolm Wylie. “If we didn’t have stoats in New Zealand I’d probably be out of a job! They are the number one predator of kiwi and a huge threat to the valley’s other vulnerable species such as blue duck/whio, kākā and kea.”
He is also keen to see if the group’s work can expand to target the “enormous damage” done by possums.
The young kiwi or roroa come from crèche facilities at Riccarton Bush and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve where they were incubated and raised as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg.
Children from Wharenui and Avonhead schools, who have a kaitiaki (guardian) role for Riccarton Bush, will witness a blessing by iwi and ‘hand’ the kiwi over to their new kaitiaki from Hurunui College. The birds will then travel to Lewis Pass where they will be met in the Nina valley by the rest of the restoration group.
If the release proves successful, there will be further releases of up to 30 birds over the next three years.