Home > News > Archive > 26th July 2005

Kiwi back on Maungatautari

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
KIWI COME HOME: Dulcie Parerohi Gardiner, Gordon Stephenson and DoC officer, Ben Barr about to release Pukupuku, one of four kiwi set free on Maungatautari Mountain on Saturday. Photo by Phil Brown.
Kiwi were returned to Maungatautari, after an estimated 100 year absence, in an emotional ceremony on Saturday.

Four kiwi were released into Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust’s northern enclosure.

This marked the first species reintroduction in the community-driven restoration project that will return a range of New Zealand’s most threatened species to the 3400 hectare mountain.

Te Ao Pehi Kara blessed the two male and two female North Island brown kiwi juveniles before they were handed from Tuwharetoa to Tainui and trust representatives.

A hush fell on the more than 200 invited guests as each bird was gently guided into specially-prepared burrows.

Jim Mylchreest, chief executive for the trust, said that this was a turning point in the preservation of New Zealand’s indigenous threatened species.

"To create a safe environment for our iconic kiwi and know they can mature and breed without fear of being predated is incredibly special – it has truly been a wonderful day.”

Following the formal proceedings the invited guests were entertained by the Kara and Papa families. One of the songs was specially written for the day by teenager Reihana Kara.

Trust staff checked on the birds during Saturday night, using radio tracking equipment, and will continue to monitor their progress. The shrill of kiwi will not be heard from the male juveniles for at least a year and from the females for two years. The female juveniles are not expected to breed for at least three years.

Other species reintroductions are planned for Maungatautari, some into the safety of the enclosures, while others will have to wait until the whole mountain is pestproof fenced.

Mr Mylchreest said that trained volunteers were responsible for the extensive monitoring programme “it is their commitment that has ensured the reintroduction of kiwi earlier than expected.”

Project architect and chairman of the trust, David Wallace, said he was thrilled with the release and noted that the kiwi reintroduction was a milestone in the project and a turning point for conservation.

‘What we have here is a community determined to make sure that we have no more indigenous species extinctions and ensuring that we can all experience a native forest full of bird song – it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.”