The chick, named Kindara, was born at Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua, along with a sibling with a slightly less pronounced ginger tone to its plumage.
Kindara had been staying at Wairakei until he reached a stoat-proof weight of 1kg.
At the weekend he was taken to the Karioi Rahui Reserve on the southern slopes of Mt Ruapehu for his release.
Kindara was named by the bird’s sponsor, Tauhara College, after their school and sister school, Kindai, in Japan.
A group of students from the school were present for Kindara’s release.
“Through Kindara’s sponsorship, the students know more about the kiwi and their plight, and the efforts going towards saving kiwi,” says Tauhara student Tegan Clark.
Kindara is one of an estimated 70,000 kiwi left in New Zealand, and supporters say he has a good chance of survival thanks to a collaborative effort.
“This is what saving kiwi is all about – inspiring future generations to care for our native species,” says Kiwis for Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey.
Currently around 5 percent of kiwi chicks survive in the wild, with dogs and stoats the main predators.