Date: 10 February 2012
Thanks to a Herculean conservation effort by Hurunui College in North Canterbury, three great-spotted kiwi/roroa will be returned to the Nina valley tomorrow.
Tim Kelly, the Hurunui College teacher responsible for the project, says about 40 students have been carrying out extensive predator control work in the area for the last four years.
“Initially we were preparing the valley for the introduction of kiwi in 2010,” says Kelly.
“Since then we’ve had birds to protect, so our work has become even more rewarding and urgent. Our focus has been to get rid of the main kiwi killers – stoats.”
“The stoat control also has a positive impact on the valley’s other vulnerable species such as blue duck/whio, kākā and kea.”
Hurunui College started the project in the Nina valley after DOC biodiversity ranger, Malcolm Wylie, visited the school. 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.
Kids Restore New Zealand spokesperson, Ruud Kleinpaste, says the Nina valley restoration project shows exactly what young New Zealanders can do to help restore our biodiversity.
“They've got the tools, the know-how and a fabulous commitment to improve their environment," he says.
Executive Director of the BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, Michelle Impey, is impressed by how much the students have achieved.
“These students have achieved an extraordinary amount. If other schools did a fraction of Hurunui College’s pest control work, what a different environment we would have for the protection of kiwi.
“Our warmest congratulations and thanks to you all.”
The young kiwi come from crèche facilities at Riccarton Bush and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, where they were incubated and raised as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg.
Kelly says: “Our target is to get a sustainable population of birds (about 40) resident in the valley.”
Roroa are the largest of the five kiwi species and are found in the wild only in Lake Sumner Forest Park and Arthur’s Pass, Kahurangi and Paparoa national parks in the central South Island. They are threatened with extinction and classified as ‘nationally vulnerable’, the third most critical threat rating in New Zealand.
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