It was an extra special kiwi release on March 11 as Mokopuna – the 150th kiwi to graduate from the Matakohe-Limesone Island kiwi creche – was warmly welcomed by around 400 people at Parua Bay.
Mokopuna was accompanied by three fellow kiwi graduates – Ross, Harikoa and Rukuwai – but it was Mokopuna who took the honour of being the 150th kiwi.
Matakohe-Limestone Island in the Whangarei Harbour has been managed as Northland’s only “kiwi creche” by the Friends of Matakohe-Limestone Island (FOMLI) in partnership with Whangarei District Council for the last 15 years .
FOMLI chairwoman Pam Stevens says “Kiwi were first introduced to the island in 2001 when adult birds Helga and Glen were released as part of a trial to see how kiwi would fare on the island.
The kiwi did extremely well, and since 2003 the island has been operating as a ‘Kiwi Creche’ for Operation Nest Egg (“ONE”) and rescued kiwi chicks. We are thrilled to reach the milestone of the 150th kiwi graduating from the island”.
A “kiwi crèche” is a predator free site where young kiwi chicks, hatched in the wild or artificially incubated, are released to grow on without risk of predation. Once the chicks reach 1200g or more they are then capable of defending themselves from stoats, which are the primary predator of young kiwi chicks, and can be returned to the mainland. At any one time Matakohe-Limestone Island is home to four adults (breeding pairs Glen & Baldrick and Sir Ed and Kahui whetu) and up to 30 “ONE” chicks.
FOMLI celebrated the 150th kiwi milestone with a special ceremony led by Te Parawhau kaumatua Fred Tito and Pari Walker who named two of the kiwi and blessed them all on their way.
Later in the evening the four kiwi were welcomed by around 400 people at the Backyard Kiwi release and set free at Parua Bay within a predator controlled area where locals have learned the importance of good dog control to ensure kiwi survival.
The kiwi were released on the Ross’s family farm behind Parua Bay which has been part of the Backyard Kiwi pest control program for many years. Ross the kiwi was named after the family who are one of the original settler families of the area and have been a big part of the community for the last 150 years.
Jennifer Ross was present to help release two of the kiwi – Ross and Rukuwai – into their respective burrows.
All four kiwi have transmitters on their legs and their movements will be monitored by Backyard Kiwi Project Manager Todd Hamilton over the next couple of months to see where they wander.