In 1999, a small remnant population of the eastern race of brown kiwi were discovered in Ohope Scenic Reserve, southeast of Whakatane. Miraculously, adult kiwi had survived in the reserve without any predator control. The discovery initiated the Whakatane Kiwi Project in 2000, a partnership between Environment Bay of Plenty and the Department of Conservation (DOC), in conjunction with Te Runanga o Ngati Awa. In 2006, two new partners joined the project – the Whakatane Kiwi Trust and the Whakatane district council.
Targeted pest control and Operation Nest Egg™ have gone a long way towards achieving a self-sustaining wild brown kiwi population in Ohope Scenic Reserve. In fact, the project has been so successful it has expanded into three areas of private land, and there are now more than 150 kiwi under management in the Whakatane area. The aim by 2015 is to have 200 kiwi under management by the Trust, with at least 120 in the core area (this doubles the project’s 2010 target).
In 2011 the Trust began moving towards in situ hatching rather than using Operation Nest Egg. Chicks are monitored using a team of volunteers and relies on the good work of the Trust’s volunteer trappers.
The Whakatane Kiwi Trust was formed specifically to support the project. The Trust raises funds to help ensure the project’s long-term sustainability, increases awareness and public support for kiwi protection, and provides opportunities for the community to be involved.
Trust projects include:
- An awareness campaign about the danger of dogs, including kiwi aversion training, publicity of ‘no dog zones’, and training locals as dog rangers.
- A kiwi education programme for primary and intermediate schools.
- Community-led pest control operations in two district council reserves.
- Training volunteers in kiwi call count monitoring techniques.
Size of area under protection
The Whakatane Kiwi Project initially focused on Ohope Scenic Reserve (500 hectares), with predator-free Moutohora/Whale Island (143 hectares) offering a secure back-up kiwi population.
The project has now released kiwi into the Ohope Scenic Reserve, Kohi Point Scenic Reserve (153 hectares), Mokorua Reserve (280 hectares) and still has a back up population on Moutohora.
Intensive predator control is carried out in this core area and a surrounding buffer covering approximately 4000 hectares.
The biggest challenge for the Trust is finding funding to support the project’s work. The goal is, by 2015, to have more than 75% of the project’s budget coming from investments, external funders, sponsors and donations. To achieve this, the Trust has written a multi-year strategic plan and annual business plan to establish itself as a professional business unit, and is setting up systems for administration and financial reporting.
The Whakatane Kiwi Trust is supported by Environment Bay of Plenty and DOC and receives generous donations from the community.
The Trust has also managed to secure an international corporate partner – gbk, the Gourmet Burger Kitchen – based in the United Kingdom. For every Kiwiburger sold, the company donates 25 pence to kiwi conservation in Whakatane.
Each year a number of funding applications are submitted and sponsorship sought. In addition, the Trust runs an annual donation appeal and two fund raising events.
Its funders have included DOC, Kiwis for kiwi and e-c Internet Solutions, which sponsored the Trust’s website.
Every Operation Nest Egg chick released back into the project area is a success and reason for celebration. The project has now produced more than 150 chicks (including the in situ chicks from this year).
The one most important thing
Keeping local communities in touch with what the Whakatane Kiwi Project is achieving is vital. Not only does it help ensure ongoing support, it helps reinforce the need for people to keep their dogs under control and out of the designated kiwi zones.
Whakatane’s closeness to native forest makes the area very special, as people can interact with kiwi, and develop a greater appreciation for native wildlife and bush within a stone’s throw of the town. Project administrator, Laura Morgan, says this fosters ongoing support for the project.
By 2015, the aim is to have the Whakatāne Kiwi Project as a fully community-based project, with community representatives taking on leadership roles.
For further information, or to make a donation, subscribe to our newsletter or register as a volunteer, please contact the Whakatane Kiwi Trust:
Postal address: PO Box 3153, Ohope 3161