Back in 2002, an estimated 1000 eastern brown kiwi kiwi lived in the Kaweka Ranges. That year the newly formed Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED) sprung into action to help reverse the decline.
ECOED’s General Manager, Alastair Bramley, says one of ECOED’s first wins was a $13,540 grant from Kiwis for kiwi to help pay for wild kiwi to be caught and tagged, the first step in managing the small population.
Two years later, a report by kiwi expert, Dr John McLennan, identified just where ECOED should best focus its efforts:
- First, because the Kaweka Forest Park’s kiwi population was sparse, Operation Nest Egg would be more cost-effective than predator control.
- Second, the Trust needed a fenced pest-proof area to keep the young kiwi safe.
His recommendations focused ECOED’s kiwi work on three areas—building a core population of kiwi in Kaweka Forest Park; raising Operation Nest Egg chicks in the pest-proof Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche (which opened in 2008); and engaging school children with kiwi.
ECOED’s education programmes for Hawke’s Bay school children combine adventure in the outdoors with learning about the environment.
Size of area under management
ECOED manages more than 40 kiwi spread over 25,000 hectares in Kaweka Forest Park. ECOED has also constructed the Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche at Opouahi Scenic Reserve, which surrounds 40 hectares of bush with a 3.3 kilometre pest-proof fence. The first chicks raised in the crèche were returned to the wild in 2009.
Alastair says the biggest threat facing kiwi, and the biggest challenge for ECOED, is the impact of stoats, ferrets and dogs. The main challenge is finding the solution to reduce pest numbers over large areas of kiwi habitat.
Over the next three years, ECOED will be involved in a trial with the Aotearoa Foundation, the Department of Conservation and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, in an attempt to reduce pest numbers over 8000 hectares on predominantly rural land which surrounds the crèche and the Boundary Stream Mainland Island.
In 2008, the ‘Save the Kiwi Hawke’s Bay’ project suffered a set back when about 30 Kaweka kiwi were killed by ferrets. It is thought a drought triggered this event, where ferrets left their normal habitat and invaded the bush. To minimise the risk of this happening again, Alastair says the team now release juvenile kiwi deep in the Forest Park, where ferrets are less likely to penetrate. In addition, with the help of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, local forestry company Pan Pac and volunteers, ECOED also traps the edge of the bush to help prevent ferrets moving off the farmland and killing kiwi.
Alastair says ECOED’s ‘Save Our Kiwi Hawke’s Bay’ key successes include:
Celebrating the return of its 100th juvenile kiwi, ‘Parauri’, to the wild.
Taking more than 1000 students and members of the community on a guided kiwi experience at the crèche during the past year.
The one most important thing
As well as having an active and dedicated volunteer kiwi team, Alastair says the key to ECOED’s success is the make-up of its Trust Board. “Our Trustees are well respected and well connected, and that has been most beneficial in gaining wider community support.”
The range of supporters include Kiwis for kiwi, the Department of Conservation, Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd, Eastern and Central Community Trust, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Endeavour Community Trust, Infinity Foundation Ltd, Forest & Bird, Kiwi Encounter Rainbow Springs, Porter Hire, Hawke’s Bay Proteins, Birdwoods Gallery, Hastings District Council and Landcorp Farming Ltd.
If you would like to learn more about the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust, or volunteer some time, contact Wendy Rakete-Stones, General Manager, at:
Phone: 06 877 1213
Postal address: P O Box 28 207, Havelock North