Kiwi handler Andrew Nelson (right) and Bayer NZ Managing Director, Dr Holger Detje with one of the translocated kiwi prior to it being placed in a new burrow
Eleven Coromandel brown kiwi have this week been relocated from the Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary on the Coromandel Peninsula to predator-free Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
The transfer of nine kiwi on 2 April 2014 - courtesy of a Royal New Zealand Navy helicopter - is a significant step towards establishing a self-sustaining population of Coromandel brown kiwi on Motutapu. They join the seven Coromandel brown kiwi on Motutapu transferred from the Peninsula in October 2012 and April 2013, and two yesterday.
The goal is to build a genetically robust population of Coromandel brown kiwi on Motutapu. This is being done by taking kiwi from different parts of the Peninsula and releasing them on the island to pair up and breed.
"Kiwi bred on Motutapu can then be returned to predator controlled areas of the Coromandel, like the Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary. This will boost the number and genetic diversity of kiwi on the Coromandel," says DOC's Director of Partnerships in Auckland, Meg Poutasi.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is working with the Motutapu Restoration Trust and their sponsors, Bayer New Zealand, Kiwis for kiwi, community kiwi conservation groups on the Coromandel, and iwi in the Coromandel and Auckland regions, to establish the self-sustaining kiwi on Motutapu.
"There are only around 1,500 Coromandel brown kiwi on the Coromandel. Having a breeding population of them on Motutapu will help secure the survival of this rare brown kiwi," says Motutapu Restoration Trust chair, Christine Fletcher.
DOC's Auckland Services Manager Jonathan Miles shows one of the kiwi to all ages from the Motutapu Restoration Trust, before it finds a new home
DOC has cleared Motutapu and Rangitoto of introduced predators, including stoats and feral cats that eat kiwi eggs and chicks.
DOC maintains a biosecurity system to keep the islands free of predators and safe for the native wildlife released on the island since the predators were removed. This includes critically endangered takahe, and shore plover, plus tieke/saddleback and popokatea/whitehead.
"The vision of the Motutapu Restoration Trust is to restore the natural and cultural landscapes of the island and breathe new life into the ancient landform," says Christine Fletcher.
The Trust's volunteers have planted nearly half a million native trees on Motutapu creating a native forest habitat for Coromandel brown kiwi and the other threatened native birds released on the island.
"We passionately believe in the work of the Motutapu Restoration Trust and DOC which is why we've committed $20,000 to assist with funding kiwi relocations," says Bayer New Zealand Managing Director, Dr Holger Detje.
"Our employees have also committed to planting two hectares of native plants on Motutapu so these kiwi will have an even bigger home in future."
"It's important for business to get behind such conservation projects. Our mission at Bayer is Science For A Better Life, not only in business, but also in relation to our support for the community."
There are five species of kiwi and they were once common throughout New Zealand. Now they're endangered because of introduced pests, particularly stoats and feral cats. And because of uncontrolled dogs, which are major killers of adult kiwi.
Today, 95 percent of kiwi living in areas where pests and dogs are not controlled die before they reach breeding age.
Kiwis for kiwi
Kiwis for kiwi is a non profit organisation that supports the work of more than 80 community groups around the country, providing funding for vital kiwi conservation, breeding and hatching programmes. Go to the Kiwis for kiwi website to make your secure, online donation.
The Kiwi Trust
Kiwis for KiwiTM is the trading name of The Kiwi Trust
It is a new independent trust, carrying on more than two decades of dedicated work by BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, to help protect kiwi and the places they live.
Thousands of New Zealanders have donated to this cause, with a vision to take kiwi from endangered to everywhere. Kiwis for kiwi raises and distributes funds to community, DOC and volunteer groups helping save kiwi throughout the country. The Kiwis for kiwi patron is Sir Graham Henry.
Motutapu Restoration Trust
The Motutapu Restoration Trust was established in 1994 to restore the ‘natural and cultural landscapes' of Motutapu through the active participation of volunteers.
At around 160 million years old, Motutapu is one of the oldest landforms of New Zealand, which has prompted the Trust's by line of ‘breathing new life into an ancient landform'.
The Trust seeks to restore a natural landscape similar to that which arose out of the ashes of the Rangitoto eruption some 600 years ago. It runs a year-round volunteer programme involving the community in seed collection, nursery work, tree planting and weed control.
Regular volunteer days take place on the first, third and fifth Sunday of each month, together with mid-week volunteer days, throughout the year.
The Trust welcomes new volunteers keen to help ‘breathe new life into an ancient landform'.