A kiwi pair in burrow together, Matau Taranaki

Within a few years, the team at the Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare project expects that they will be releasing 40+ kiwi every year to predator-controlled areas around Taranaki.

“Imagine releasing 40 kiwi each year in different places. It’s going to be huge. So in 10 years, that would be 400 birds” says Sue Hardwick-Smith, Chairperson of Taranaki Kiwi Trust.

When you consider that those 400 birds will then breed and have chicks of their own, up to 4 per year, the impact that this will have on kiwi numbers in Taranaki is significant.

The Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare project is a partnership between Taranaki Kiwi Trust and Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust and is the first project in the country that was set up with the express purpose of breeding kiwi in a kōhanga site to be translocated to the wild.

Header image (c) Taranaki Kiwi Trust

Rotokare Scenic Reserve is a 230 hectare, fully fenced site that was established to reintroduce native species back to Taranaki. So far, they’ve reintroduced saddlebacks and whiteheads and a founder population of 30 kiwi was established between 2012 and 2014.

The founder kiwi will remain in the reserve, with the chicks they produce being translocated back to the wild when they are big enough to be able to defend themselves. They will be put into areas where there is predator control in operation, managed by Taranaki Kiwi Trust.

Taranaki Kiwi Trust has been doing predator control work since 2001 and currently looks after trapping networks on about 12,000 hectares of land. They have been involved in Operation Nest Egg since 2005, which has been very successful for them in boosting kiwi number in the region.

The partnership with Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust was established in 2012 to build on this work in a sustainable way. Operation Nest Egg is very effective at growing kiwi populations but can be quite expensive. Using a kohanga site that is already in operation helps to reduce these costs, whilst producing a significant number of kiwi chicks.

Kiwis for kiwi has been delighted to support the Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare project. With our focus set clearly on achieving a 2% growth in kiwi populations, this project, which brings together predator control, Operation Nest Egg and the use of a kōhanga site is a great example of using a suite of programmes to achieve the best outcome.

Our funding has supported the analysis and planning work necessary for a project of this nature. We helped fund scoping work in 2013/2014 and this year have supported the development of the strategy for ongoing management of the project.

As a funder, we’re committed to helping community-, iwi-, hapū- and whānau-led kiwi conservation groups achieve their potential. This includes being open to funding ongoing project costs and administration, management and planning costs.

Volunteers across the country dedicate thousands of hours every year to protecting kiwi but sometimes, to be the most efficient and effective they can be, groups need to be able to pay for certain services. We are proud to be able to provide funding to groups who need assistance with this.