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The Department of Conservation, Kaipupu Point Mainland Island Society, Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio and Te Ātiawa are inviting people to join a celebration and blessing ceremony for the wildlife sanctuary becoming a rowi crèche. The event on Saturday 28 May at 1pm at Waikawa Marae will be a chance to see a young rowi chick.

Two four-month-old rowi will be part of the blessing ceremony and afterwards will be released onto the Kaipupu Point Sounds Wildlife Sanctuary. A total of nine juvenile rowi are to be the first sheltered at the sanctuary.

Predator-free Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds has been the main crèche location for juvenile rowi kiwi until this point.

DOC South Westland Operations Manager Jo Macpherson says more space is needed for juvenile rowi due to the success of the DOC and Kiwis for kiwi rowi programme in increasing the numbers of New Zealand’s rarest kiwi from below 200 to more than 400.

“An increasing number of rowi are being hatched from eggs collected in Ōkarito Forest and Motuara can’t accommodate them all.”

“We are capping the number of juvenile rowi on Motuara at 50 birds to ensure they can all get enough food to eat which for kiwi includes insects, grubs, and worms. Having another crèche site at the Kaipupu Point Sounds Wildlife Sanctuary also provides insurance should anything such as disease threaten the kiwi on Motuara.”

Kaipupu Point Mainland Island Society Chairman Barry Maister said to become a rowi crèche was a significant milestone for the Kaipupu Point Sounds Wildlife Sanctuary.

“This is incredibly exciting and a testament to the many thousands of volunteer hours trapping and pest monitoring on the sanctuary over the last 11 years. From day one of the project we have looked forward to the time we could welcome kiwi onto Kaipupu Point.

“Our ongoing commitment to predator control means we can offer a safe crèche scenario for juvenile rowi.”

Through the Kiwis for kiwi Operation Nest EggTM programme, rowi eggs are taken out of Ōkarito Forest and hatched at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. The chicks are then moved to Christchurch’s Willowbank Wildlife Centre where they begin to learn to care for themselves while being monitored by carers. Then the juvenile kiwi are kept in predator-free sanctuaries until about a year old and 1 – 1.5 kilogrammes in size when they are better able to defend themselves from stoats.

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