Community Liaison Team News: Creating Protection for Kiwi

The New Zealand of ancient times was a land of birds. The bush covered hills alive with bird song and the gentle rustle of scaled feet shuffling through the ferns and moist earth, the soft brush of wing as tui and pīwakawaka (fantail) flitted through the trees above their ground dwelling cousins. Once giants wandered our forests too – Moa on the earth and Hokioi (Haast’s Eagle) hunting even our largest bird from the skies, and Kiwi were in abundance, all flourishing in their largely predator free ecosystem.

It’s estimated that there were once around 12 million kiwi living in Aotearoa, but that number is declining rapidly thanks to human introduced predator species, estimated at fewer than 100,000 birds in 1998 and by 2008 the population had further reduced to approximately 70,000 kiwi. In 2022 currently it’s estimated that only around 70,000 kiwi remain.

However it’s not all bad news! There are many projects including The Forest Bridge Trust who are committed to providing safe, predator-controlled areas for kiwi that make a huge difference to their survival rates. Organisations all over New Zealand are predator trapping and running dog aversion training to dog owners in kiwi habitat areas, allowing survival rates for kiwi chicks in these areas to jump to as high as 95%. Controlling predators for kiwi also has the knock-on effect of protecting other native species too – increasing birdsong and biodiversity in your own backyard.

In our area we already have kiwi on the west coast at Mataia, and east coast at Tawharanui. Now thanks to the dedicated efforts of a group of committed locals – the Tamahunga Trappers, alongside pest control work by the Department of Conservation (DOC), Auckland Council and local iwi, Ngati Manuhiri, it is now safe to introduce kiwi on Mount Tamahunga starting in March 2022 – how exciting will it be to have kiwi in our backyards!

The Forest Bridge Trust (TFBT) have been supporting the project, with our community liaison team Michelle and Tris, out and about delivering information and engaging individuals in the communities around Tamahunga who would like to be a part of this exciting environmental project. Residents in neighbourhoods around Tamahunga can support by allowing trapping on their own property, or volunteering time to check traps as part of a trapline checking team and their support will be vital to the ongoing success of the relocation. Check the buffer zone map here to see if you are within the kiwi protection zones.

Michelle and Tris comment: “Whilst our focus for the next 6 months is supporting the kiwi release, we haven’t lost sight of our wider vision; To create a connected landscape of healthy forests and flourishing indigenous wildlife from the Kaipara harbour to the Pacific Ocean. So we are also interested to hear from people outside the kiwi buffer zone who are interested in getting involved in controlling these predators within their communities as we look to the future and creating a corridor for the kiwi colonies to be able to connect in years to come.”

Email TFBT: for more information or to be a part of this exciting conservation project.