Tipa Compain, chairman of Wharekawa Marae Trust, says Paoa-Whanaunga of the marae are fully behind the repatriation of kiwi which they consider taonga (a natural treasure).
“We look forward to working with the other mana whenua tribes and Auckland Council to nurture the kiwi,” Compain says.
Mayor Phil Goff says an initial six birds, to be released on March 31, will be the first kiwi to re-populate the southern part of the Auckland region.
“It’s fantastic we can bring kiwi back to south Auckland,” Goff says. “This release has the potential to make a significant contribution to kiwi recovery nationally.”
Rigorous pest control programme carried out across the Hunua Ranges has made it possible for kiwi to return to the area for the first time in decades. The council and its partners plan to release at least 40 kiwi into the regional park over the next six years.
“The Hunua Ranges has 17,000 hectares of ample space and sufficient pest protection for a large population of kiwi to re-establish their homes,” Goff says. “It is critically important to continue pest control throughout the Auckland region to enable our native wildlife to thrive.”
Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore farms adjacent to the Hunua Ranges and has been involved and supportive of the forest’s pest control programme which includes intensive pest control in the 1500 hectare Kōkako Management Area and an aerial bait project (using 1080) carried out in mid-2015.
“The Hunua Ranges pest control programme is an ongoing success story – from being in a position where no kōkako chicks fledged in early 2015 to a record season in 2016 and 2017.
“Pest numbers are still low enough in the Kōkako Management Area that brown kiwi can now be released.
“Thanks needs to go to iwi, our wonderful volunteers, our neighbours and especially to Auckland Council staff involved in this award winning project. A fantastic result,” says Cr Cashmore.
Local iwi will welcome the first kiwi from Kuaotunu on the Coromandel Peninsula and Hauauru Rawiri, kaihautū for Ngāti Paoa, says the return of kiwi to the rohe (tribal area) is special.
“Kiwi are taonga, of cultural importance for Māori and of ecological significance to the forest. Seeing these hidden birds of Tāne return home is potentially the catalyst for the repatriation of more endangered fauna and flora.”
However, Rawiri says it is important that everyone, including the local community, schools, iwi, businesses, council and central government, works together to ensure the sustainability of the kiwi in the rohe.
- The Hunua Ranges is the best prepared to receive kiwi that it has been for many, many decades. A successful aerial 1080 pest management programme was carried out in 2015 across 21,500 hectares of the Hunua Ranges Regional Park, the Mangatawhiri Forest, Vining Scenic Reserve and some adjacent forested private land to control rats and possums.
- Following the bait drop, rat and possum numbers across the ranges were reduced to 1 per cent and 0 per cent within the intensively managed Kōkako Management Area.
- The release site is located in the 1495 hectare Kōkako Management Area (KMA) within the 17,500 ha Hunua Ranges Regional Park, administered by the Auckland Council.
- Historically two species of kiwi, brown and little spotted, would have occurred in the Hunua Ranges. As with kiwi elsewhere, introduced predators including domestic dogs and especially stoats, decimated populations.
- Brown kiwi were present in the Hunua Ranges until at least 1978.
The Kuaotunu kiwi
- Six birds will be released into the Hunua Ranges – three males and three females
- Each bird will be fitted with a transmitter which will be monitored regularly – every 1-2 weeks while the birds settle in and on a monthly basis after that.
- The birds are a little over three months old, each having reached more than 1kg in weight and therefore able to defend itself in the wild.
- These birds are part of the Kuaotunu Project Kiwi programme.