Project Kiwi Trust is the oldest community-led kiwi conservation project in the country. For more than 20 years, they have been the kaitiaki, or guardians, for kiwi on the Kuaotunu Peninsula in the Coromandel.
As with many community-led kiwi conservation projects, Project Kiwi was started by a private landowner who wanted to do more to look after the taonga of their land. Warwick Wilson originally bought his 400 hectares with the intention of clearing the bush and raising sheep. But over time, he learned more about the native species and decided to make the area into a haven for wildlife instead, particularly for kiwi.
Today, Project Kiwi’s work has a much wider impact than just protecting kiwi in their local area. As community-led kiwi conservation work has grown, so too has collaboration between groups. “As we’ve grown and learnt more over the years, we’ve found that we’re able to pass on some of this knowledge to some of our colleagues in kiwi conservation,” says Paula Williams, the Trust’s Project Manager. “As time goes on, groups like ours are working more and more closely together to look at how what we do can benefit kiwi nationally. That included the strategic use of Operation Nest Egg to boost kiwi numbers in protected areas with sparse populations, which we’re very pleased to be part of.”
Kiwis for kiwi is proud to have worked with Project Kiwi for over a decade and our relationship goes far beyond just that of being a funder and grant recipient. Project Kiwi is a key partner for the upscale of Operation Nest Egg necessary to achieve the target of increasing kiwi populations by 2% each year.
Since 2005, Project Kiwi has released 155 juvenile kiwi through Operation Nest Egg and Kiwis for kiwi has been supporting them every step of the way. As far as financial support goes, some of our funding has been directly towards supporting the logistics of Operation Nest Egg, and predator control in their area, but last year’s was focused on funding a project coordinator.
Funding administration roles is something grant-making organisations often shy away from. But the importance of this kind of funding should not be underestimated.
“Being able to employ someone to help organise the Trust allows [the management team] to redirect our efforts from having to find funding to being able to maximise conservation gains,” explains Paula. And when Project Kiwi talks about maximising conservation gains, they don’t just mean just in their local area.
As the longest-running community-led kiwi conservation project, the Trust considers itself to be a ‘big sister’ of the conservation world. And, as such, it takes its responsibilities of being a role model and mentoring other groups seriously. In fact, their mission statement includes “Nationally, we want all kiwi to thrive”.
That’s why we’re so proud to work with Project Kiwi Trust – they’re big thinkers, just like us. “We wholeheartedly support Kiwis for kiwi’s vision to take kiwi from endangered to everywhere,” concludes Paula. “And we’re confident we’ll get there by all working together for the benefit of kiwi across the country.”
Header image (c) Jake Morgan