Kiwis for kiwi

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As you’ll know, earlier this year, we launched our ambitious strategy, currently called “Target 2%” (working title).  I have spent a lot of time this year travelling around the country and I have enjoyed having the opportunity to get better acquainted with what’s happening on-the-ground once again. Thank you to everyone who has hosted  and spent time with me. Together, we’ve got a big task ahead of us, but with every conversation I have, I grow more confident we can do it because of the passion and commitment I see day-in, day-out.

Following all of those conversations, consultation with experts like John McLennan and looking at where we fit in with the National Kiwi Plan, we have identified a niche for Kiwis for kiwi, harnessing the power of community- and Māori-led conservation groups, to contribute to the national goal of 2% growth of kiwi by stocking  predator-free kōhanga sites. We plan to do this via a large-scale (temporary) ONE programme, ultimately establishing a long-term supply of kiwi that can be returned to the wild to establish/bolster kiwi populations.

It is an enormous piece of work, but we are making some great progress.  I thought I’d share some of the highlights with everyone here to make sure you’re all aware of where we’re at and, if I haven’t had the chance to speak to you personally recently, where we’re headed.

First, we are really excited to welcome a few additions to our small team: Tamsin Ward-Smith for Eastern brown kiwi, Paula Williams for Coromandel brown and Michelle Bird for Western brown kiwi.  They will be focused on coordinating the ONE work to deliver on our strategy in their regions on behalf of Kiwis for kiwi.

The Kiwis for kiwi team: From left to right Michelle Impey, Morgan Cox, Clea Gardiner, Ross Halpin, Paul O’Shea, Wendy Sporle, Tamsin Ward-Smith, Paula Williams and Michelle Bird

Clea Gardiner continues in the role of Northland regional coordinator, and Morgan Cox as Kaitautoko Kaupapa Kiwi.   Wendy Sporle will be stepping aside from her role as National Mentor for Advocacy in December, and some of her work that is ongoing will be allocated to other team members. We thank her for her decades of contribution, and know that this isn’t truly a goodbye as she will continue to support kiwi conservation.

We are working with DOC on a national translocation permit to allow us to move eggs/chicks from anywhere within each taxon’s range to the key kōhanga sites.  We have identified some possible sites to source kiwi for this year, guided by a genetic management prescription developed for Kiwis for kiwi by Charles Daugherty.   Where possible, we are trying to target currently unmanaged sites for radio tagging new males, so that there is an immediate benefit for kiwi. But we are, of course, open to managed sites. If your project would like to get involved, please let us know.

Conversations to progress our Iwi partnerships (our preferred term to “consultation”) is in progress. DOC is lending support for this mahi.

More birds with transmitters means more eggs! A plan to increase incubation capacity is underway, which will see a blend of working with existing facilities, plus creating new/temporary facilities.  We don’t want to “rob Peter to pay Paul”, so where there is extra capacity, we will gladly deliver eggs to fill it. But we will be looking for new dedicated places to incubate eggs and brood chicks. These will be temporary, and likely portable, facilities.  Support for incubation facilities as they ramp up their work effort will be provided by Claire Travers, former husbandry manager at Kiwi Encounter, under contract to Kiwis for kiwi.

Although this has been a year focused on planning and preparing for the next breeding season, we have been able to progress with releasing chicks to Coromandel brown kōhanga site, Motutapu Island.  All credit is due to Paula Williams, our point person on the ground, who has made this happen. So far just under 15 additional chicks have gone to the island this season and we estimate we’ll do in one year what it took five years to do with the first translocations to the island –  a testament to the power of what motivated and highly skilled community conservationists are capable of achieving when empowered to do so.

There is still much work to be done and I’m aware that our communication has been a bit infrequent. We aim to change that and to keep you all up to date.  If you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you, once again, to all of you out there involved in protecting kiwi.  You are all contributing to the achievable goal of reversing the decline of kiwi and I’m very proud to work alongside you in this mahi.

Ngā Mihi

Michelle Impey