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Motutapu’s 100th kiwi released

The pest free island of Motutapu introduced its 100th kiwi to their new home and marked the halfway point of the conservation project.

Motutapu Island welcomed its 100th kiwi on December 13.

The kiwi and two more of its friends were introduced to their new home thanks to the Motutapu Restoration Trust and Kiwis for Kiwi (KFK) funding programme in partnership with the Department of Conservation.

KFK is a programme that provides funding, expert knowledge and education to multiple kiwi conservation projects nationwide.

KFK executive director Michelle Impey says we can’t forget the hard work of other groups who ensure eggs for incubation, monitoring of kiwi and pest eradication. “For us, we are the cherry on top. It’s the little bit that leverages the hard work of others for the benefit of kiwis.”

Motutapu Restoration Trust Chairman, Brett Butland says that they are following an ecological balance on the island. “Over the past 20 years or so the Trust has leveraged over $70 million dollars into the island. We’ve created habitat of just over 100 hectares.”

“What we are trying to do is create a mosaic habitat in and around the island, so species are able to maximise and really travel across the island,” says Butland.

The Trust has been around for 24 years and is able to continue to make great things happen thanks to sponsors like Dole New Zealand.

Kiwis can be released into predator-free zones from as young as three weeks due to their adaptive nature and unusual independence. Impey says that kiwi don’t imprint on anyone like other birds meaning they don’t create an emotional attachment to their mother or a human after hatching.

The kiwi in the project are fed an artificial diet for the first week then encouraged to forage naturally before they are released. Impey says it’s strange, they come out of the egg knowing what to do and how to forage for bugs and insects.

The species of kiwi on Motutapu are considered Coromandel Kiwi by conservationists in New Zealand although are a part of the generalised term, North Island Brown Kiwi.

Impey says that the goal is to put around 200 kiwi onto the island then work on relocating some to the Coromandel. “The exciting part with this is, we think within five years we’ll be starting to return kiwi back to the Coromandel. If done well and done correctly that will be in perpetuity.”

Butland says that the work on Motutapu is a never-ending story. “We have 1500 hectares to work through, we’re excited about the next stage. The more habitat we create, the more species we can hold and the more value we can add to Auckland and New Zealand’s biodiversity.”

The Trust is always looking for more helping hands as it relies on volunteers.

To volunteer or learn more about Motutapu and how they are creating habitat for kiwi here.

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