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Love is in the air for 20 little spotted kiwi

Published: 21 April 2017
Little spotted kiwi - photo by Tom Lynch

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Love is in the air for 20 little spotted kiwi heading to Shakespear Open Sanctuary.

Love will be in the air when Auckland Council reintroduces 20 single little spotted kiwi to Shakespear Open Sanctuary on Saturday 29 April.

The release continues the council’s efforts in supporting the national conservation of our rare national bird.  

Establishing a thriving population

Mayor Phil Goff says establishing a thriving kiwi population in a new location is a complicated process but the potential rewards for the species are significant.

“Reintroducing little spotted kiwi to Shakespear is part of a multi-site programme undertaken by Auckland Council. Ten male kiwi from Tiritiri Matangi Island and 10 females from Kapiti Island will be transferred to Shakespear Open Sanctuary in an effort to increase the population size and strengthen the genetic integrity of the species,” he says.

“It’s great that Auckland can play a significant part in protecting kiwi numbers in New Zealand."

"This release follows on from the successful return of the North Island brown kiwi to the Hunua Ranges last month after 50 years. I want to thank all the partners, staff and volunteers who have helped make this release possible.”

Kiwi looking for lifelong mates

Shakespear Open Sanctuary is a 500-hectare peninsula that has been pest-free for five years. It provides a safe and suitable habitat for the kiwi to roam, mix and mingle and find a mate.

Unlike many other bird species, the council’s Senior Ranger Open Sanctuaries Matt Maitland says kiwi are monogamous and usually mate for life.

“Kiwi only have one mate at a time and partnerships have been known to last decades. The main breeding season runs across winter and spring and kiwi may lay one to two eggs in a clutch. If we’re lucky, the kiwi will find their right partner and we will hopefully start to see a new generation of kiwi at Shakespear early next year,” he says.

The council hopes to release a further 20 little spotted kiwi to Shakespear Open Sanctuary over the next few years to establish a genetically thriving founder population.

The reintroduction has been made possible thanks to Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Inc., New Zealand Defence Force, Department of Conservation, Ngāti Manuhiri, ART Confederation, Kiwis for Kiwi, Foundation North, Ministry for the Environment and Watercare Services.