People - Header Image

The arrival of humans was one of the most cataclysmic events in the history of kiwi evolution.

Within a few centuries, they have gone from a population of millions to being considered an endangered species. It began with Maori and got much worse when Europeans arrived  and it continues today.

Changing kiwi evolution

The arrival of humans has changed the future evolution of kiwi. Populations have been reduced in size, some have been lost altogether, and the kiwi gene pool has shrunk.  This may make the bird less adaptable, and inbreeding is a risk as populations become fragmented and isolated.

However, as remaining populations become more isolated from each other, some of these changes may also create opportunities for different kiwi varieties to evolve.

For example, kiwi in Northland, already cut off from other populations for tens of thousands of years by Auckland’s volcanic activity, are now cut off by the sprawling metropolis of Auckland city. It’s possible that a new variety of brown kiwi may evolve.

Future hope

While things are currently bad for kiwi, they are not bleak.  Iwi, communities, businesses and government agencies are working to secure the birds’ future.

Early impacts - teaser image

Early impacts »

New Zealand’s first people, the Maori, arrived about 1000 years ago. These early immigrants were the first to hunt the kiwi, using Polynesian dogs/kuri and traps.

Impacts today - teaser image

Impacts today »

Even though we now know kiwi are under serious threat, what we do today still harms them.