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The battle for our national bird will reach a major milestone when a special kiwi called Mighty Dash is released into the wild this week.

Date:  22 September 2016

Mighty Dash is the 1500th kiwi hatched at Rainbow Springs' Kiwi Encounter as part of the Operation Nest Egg programme.

Operation Nest Egg kiwi are raised in protected environments until they are big enough to fight off stoats. Protected kiwi chicks have a 65% chance of surviving until adulthood, compared to 10% of kiwi who are hatched and raised in the wild.

DOC plucked Mighty Dash's egg from Tongariro Forest last year and transferred the egg to Kiwi Encounter, where Mighty Dash hatched on 25 December. Now that Mighty Dash is over 1kg and big enough to fight off stoats, she's ready to return to Tongariro Forest.

Renee Potae, DOC's Ranger Biodiversity (Tongariro), says Mighty Dash's name was the result of a local competition won by a family from Ohaupo who suggested 'Mighty Dash' because the initials MD are the roman numbers for 1500, 'Dash' is linked to her Christmas birth after Dasher the reindeer, and her hatch was extraordinarily fast.

"Mighty Dash took a mere 1½ minutes to emerge from her egg. Most kiwi chicks take up to 2-3 hours to hatch. She also has distinguished lineage – her great grandfather was one of the very first kiwi caught at Tongariro Forest in the 1990s during the early days of Operation Nest Egg.

"We're actually very fortunate that Mighty Dash is here at all. Her Dad almost died when he was trapped in a log. Luckily, DOC staff rescued him and he went on to father Mighty Dash."

On Friday, DOC and staff from Rainbow Springs plan to catch Mighty Dash at Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary (her current home) and carefully transport her to Hillary Outdoors, returning her to the rohe of Ngāti Hikairo. This special occasion will provide an opportunity to celebrate with Ngāi Tahu – who fund Rainbow Springs' work, Ngāti Hikairo at Tongariro and other partners who have helped to reach this milestone.

Background information

The idea for Operation Nest Egg hatched in 1994 when researchers noticed that almost all kiwi chicks were killed by stoats, but adult kiwi were not.

Operation Nest Egg, partially funded by Kiwis for kiwi, combines the efforts of DOC, iwi, hapu, community kiwi conservation groups, researchers and captive rearing facilities, and raises more than 200 chicks each year.

Captive rearing facilities are located in both the North Island and the South Island, but most chicks are hatched at Kiwi Encounter (more than 120 eggs a year) and Auckland Zoo (up to 25 eggs each year). In the south, the focus is mainly on New Zealand's two most endangered kiwi species – Ōkārito's rowi and the Haast tokoeka.

Because kiwi hold a special place in Māori culture, and to recognise the important relationship between living things and the land on which they were born, there is often a ceremony by mana whenua (local people) to welcome the young kiwi back to the place of their birth.

This year we celebrate the 1500th kiwi chick release from Kiwi Encounter. Although the eggs at Kiwi Encounter now come from locations all over the North Island, the 1500th chick, Mighty Dash, happens to be a Tongariro chick. She's also a third generation Operation Nest Egg chick; Mighty Dash's great grandfather was one of the first wild caught kiwi at Tongariro in the early 1990s.

The first Operation Nest Egg kiwi, named Te Aukaha, was released into Tongariro Forest in 1997.

Our partners:

  • Ngāti Hikairo
  • Project Tongariro
  • Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs
  • Ngāi Tahu
  • Kiwis for Kiwi (supporting partnership)

About Kiwis for Kiwi

Kiwis for kiwi, a fully independent charity, aims to protect kiwi and their natural habitat, ensuring the species flourish forgenerations to come.

It allocates funds to hands-on community-led kiwi projects, raises funds, increases public awareness of the plight of kiwi and works alongside kiwi experts to provide resources, advice and best practice guidance to all those working to save kiwi.

In partnership with DOC, Kiwis for kiwi supports the national Kiwi Recovery Programme.


Elizabeth King
DOC Media Adviser
Phone: +64 27 204 7029

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