Tutukaka’s wild kiwi population has been enriched with a further five “taonga manu kiwi” – treasured kiwi – after two special events.
One of the five kiwi released, was the 200th kiwi to graduate from the Matakohe Limestone Island creche in the Whangarei Harbour.
The release began on Sunday morning when the five birds were caught on Matakohe Island and each was fitted with an ID chip and a radio transmitter.
This work was done by six accredited kiwi handlers from Kiwi Coast, Northland Regional Council, Tutukaka Land Care and Friends of Matakohe Limestone Island (FOMLI).
The birds were then welcomed onto the mainland at Onerahi with a whakawaatea lead by Te Parawhau kaumatua. In the process the 200th kiwi to graduate from the island was named Te Ao Tahi – Centre of the Universe.
Te Parawhau representatives said it was amazing to see the 200th kiwi leave the Island and acknowledged Ngati Hine and Ngati Wai for their part in helping Matakohe Limestone Island reach such a significant milestone
FOMLI Chairwoman Pam Stevens said they were thrilled to see the 200th kiwi graduate from the island creche after two decades of hard work. She said it was specially rewarding to have been part of successful kiwi recovery initiatives in the Whangarei district.
In the afternoon the birds were taken to Te Whanau a Rangiwhakaahu Marae at Matapouri where 300 people gathered for a special welcoming powhiri lead by Kaumatua Aperahama Edwards and Kris Macdonald.
During the powhiri Matua Aperhama spoke of the silence from the hills behind the marae that used to resound with the calls of kiwi through the night. Restoring kiwi to the ngahere – forest, was a key part of the ongoing revitalisation of the area he said.
Following the powhiri the birds were brought out for a carefully managed public viewing where many people were excited to have their first chance to see a live, wild kiwi up close.
Tutukaka Landcare Chairperson Mike Camm thanked the community for their ongoing support and involvement, which had seen kiwi increase in the area from around 100 to approximately 700.
Mr Camm said the 200 th kiwi coming off Matakohe Limestone Island coincided with another special milestone.
“Today is the 20 th anniversary of the Tutukaka Landcare Coalition. We are going from strength to strength and thanks to sustained funding from the Northland Regional Council are now carrying out pest control over 11,000 hectares from Ngunguru to Whananaki.
“This work is managed by two full time professional trappers, assisted by untold faces in the crowd killing possums, rats and the occasional stoat too. The other joy for us is the reintroduction of pateke – brown teal – that continue to increase in our streams, wetlands and ponds.”
The five kiwi were released at different sites within Tutukaka Landcare’s predator controlled area.
Kaumatua Aperahama Edwards named two of the kiwi Aorangi and Tawhiti Rahi after two of the islands in the Poor Knights group off the Tutukaka Coast. This was especially fitting said Mr Camm, as they were released on land looking out from the Tutukaka Coast towards the islands.
Kiwi Coast trapper and kiwi handler Todd Hamilton congratulated the Tutukaka community for their excellent dog control over the last 20 years which, along with pest control, had seen kiwi numbers rise so dramatically.
FOMLI and Tutukaka Landcare Coalition are both community-led projects carrying out pest control to ensure that the local forests and wildlife can thrive. Both projects extended a huge thank you to the many volunteers, sponsors, supporters and funders without which the kiwi releases would not be possible, including hapū and iwi, Northland Regional Council, Kiwi Coast and Foundation North.
Kiwi Coast will support the continued monitoring of the kiwi so their natural dispersal can be followed. This will yield vital information for the growing kiwi corridor initiative.