The birds were released today (21 January 2013) by members of the Nina Valley Restoration Group and DOC rangers. They were accompanied by representatives from Ngāi Tahu rūnunga, Tūāhuriri and Kaikōura, who blessed the birds before they were released into the wild.
Winners of the 2012 national Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon award for Education and Communication, the Nina Valley Restoration Group is comprised of students, parents and teachers from Hurunui College. They have been undertaking extensive predator control work in the area for the last five years to create a safe environment for the release of great-spotted kiwi.
Tim Kelly, the Hurunui College teacher responsible for the project, says “its success has been reliant on a combination of hard work by the group, successful fund-raising efforts and a big helping hand from the Department of Conservation”.
The restoration group receives ongoing support from Kids Restore New Zealand, a programme under the Air New Zealand Environment Trust. It has also received support from BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust (now ‘Kiwis for kiwi’) in raising the kiwi chicks through the BNZ Operation Nest Egg programme.
Through BNZ Operation Nest Egg the young kiwi were incubated and hatched at the NZ Conservation Trust’s facility at Willowbank in Christchurch. They were then transferred to the Bois Gentil Kiwi Crèche in Paparoa until they reached a safe weight (large enough to fend off their main predators—stoats) for release into the wild. The new kiwi will join seven other birds previously released in the valley through the same programme.
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.