‘Kōhanga kiwi’ are predator-free sites, usually islands or fenced sites, where kiwi can live and breed in safety.

Kōhanga kiwi - Header Image

One of the earliest examples of a kiwi kōhanga was Kapiti Island, where the last remaining handful of little spotted kiwi were placed in the early 20th century. There are now more than 1,200 birds on the island, with another 600+ having been moved to other sites.

Over the years, kōhanga have proven to be highly effective in helping to build kiwi numbers over a short time period, which is why they are integral to our Saving the Kiwi strategy. You can read more about the strategy here.

Different species and taxa of kiwi are managed in different kōhanga and many of these still have a lot of spare capacity for more kiwi to be introduced. Once a kōhanga reaches its full capacity, new homes need to be found for young birds to avoid pressure for food and territories.

The potential for kōhanga kiwi to boost kiwi populations in habitat which is being protected but has a low density of kiwi is great, and will help us achieve the goal of a 2% growth in kiwi populations.

North Island brown kiwi are the focus of Saving the Kiwi, with several kōhanga already in existence or being planned. These include:

Motutapu Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, was the site of the launch of our Saving the Kiwi strategy, and is a kōhanga for Coromandel brown kiwi. At 1,500 hectares, it has the capacity to be home to 300 pairs of kiwi. In the next 5 years, when the island is due to reach full capacity, we will begin to relocate kiwi back to their origins in the Coromandel.

Motuora Island, also in the Hauraki Gulf, which has too many Northland brown kiwi for the island’s carrying capacity. Its birds established a new kiwi population at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, and are now going to other sites, including Whangārei Heads.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, in the Waikato, which is home to Western brown kiwi. At 3,400 hectares, it is the largest fenced sanctuary in New Zealand and has the capacity to house 680 pairs of kiwi and provide hundreds of juveniles each year to regions such as Taranaki and Tongariro.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve, in Taranaki, is another kōhanga site for Western brown kiwi and hopes to start exporting birds in 2018 or shortly after.

The Cape Kidnappers and Ocean Beach Wildlife Preserve Partnership, in Hawke’s Bay, will become a kōhanga kiwi for the Eastern brown kiwi taxa, with birds going into the Kaweka Ranges.

Other species also have specific kōhanga sites dedicated to their conservation, including:


Kōhanga kiwi populations are being established for rowi, on Mana Island off the Wellington coast, and on Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds.

Haast tokoeka

Kōhanga kiwi populations have been established for Haast tokoeka on some small island populations and a fenced sanctuary built near Dunedin—in the Orokonui Ecosanctuary.

Little spotted kiwi

Kapiti Island is the main kōhanga for little spotted kiwi and is one of the first in the country. Birds are regularly moved off the island, which is at, or close to, its carrying capacity. About 200 birds have been moved to other islands or to Zealandia, in Wellington. The Department of Conservation plans to swap birds between these populations to maintain genetic diversity