Homecoming for Northland kiwi

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The releasing of five Northland brown kiwi to the Southern Kaipara was call for a major celebration at the end of May when a special ceremony took place at the Mataia Homestead in front of a privileged crowd of onlookers – all keen to get up close to view and pat our revered native bird.

The kiwi had been brought from pest-free Moturoa Island after being captured the night before by a team of DOC Whangarei workers plus some helpers. The very full moon that night was not in the team’s favour – it meant that many kiwi proved elusive. Further captures will eventually see the release of up to 40 of them into an area which was considered their home up to around 60 years ago and now deemed safe – predator-free.

After capture on Motuora, the birds were given health checks, microchips inserted and transmitters attached before putting into boxes for ferrying back to Sandspit and carefully vehicle-driven to Mataia.

This release of kiwi is the result of years of restoration work by Kevin and Gill Adshead who put aside 400ha of their Glorit farm in 2006 for conservation purposes.  A windbreak fence around the site will hopefully deter many predators – dogs considered to be the worst.

As reported previously, Trees for Survival has planted at this site for many years with the help of Nicky Elmore and Meadowbank School who were present at the ceremony, and one of the schools who performed a waiata to the 400-strong crowd.

Meadowbank, along with Tauhoa School and Ahuroa School had all raised money to purchase a transmitter for a bird and each had the opportunity to name one. Twisty, Iwik and Discovery were named, followed by Tahi for the Gardner family and Taranaki for the Ngati Whatua o Kaipara.

The morning celebration at Glorit began with a traditional Maori welcome from Ngati Whatua kaumatua Haahi Walker, followed by waiata and short speeches from Richard Gardner for the Gardner family and iwi representatives. DOC Warkworth’s Tim Brandenburg and Pete Graham outlined the bird’s journey from egg to Mataia.  After formalities, approved handlers moved through the crowd enabling people to view the birds up close. Returned to their cages, they were blessed and taken to temporary burrows in the bush before released that evening.

Members of the Whangarei DOC kiwi team, Kiwis for kiwi, other DOC and Auckland Zoo staff with volunteers carry the birds onto Mataia in response to the karanga from Ngati Whatua o Kaipara. Photo: Anna Gardner School children, including Meadowbank Primary who have planted with TfS at Mataia for many years, sing a waiata for the kiwi

This large female kiwi was released at Motuora Island in 2006 and has been eluding capture for relocation since then. She is now a foundation bird at Mataia Photo: Anna Gardner

A truly rural occasion was not without help from a wonderful community – the Makarau Branch of Rural Women feeding everyone and plenty of people pitched in with food, tents, seats etc.  Auckland Council also contributed in many ways to the organisation and success of the day.

At the time of writing further kiwi had just been released to the site – cause for more celebration and making years of hard work and commitment by the Gardner and Adshead families all that more rewarding.

To read more on the Gill and Kevin Adshead’s Mataia project see TfS Newsletter August 2102 on page 4.At the time of writing further kiwi had just

Regenerating kauri form part of the restoration at Mataia











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