Twenty additional little spotted kiwi have been successfully welcomed into their new home at Shakespear Regional Park over the weekend.
The new arrivals join the first group of little spotted kiwi who were reintroduced last year into the park’s 500-hectare pest-free sanctuary.
Auckland Council’s open sanctuaries senior ranger Matt Maitland says the second release helps to support the conservation of little spotted kiwi – the smallest and second-rarest of kiwi species.
“A founder group of 40 birds is a good genetic base for establishing a self-sustaining population,” he says.
“The first group of kiwi pukupuku have been at Shakespear for almost a year now and are doing well. They have established territories and some breeding has occurred.
“We’re confident that we have released this second group at the right time and we should see some successful pairing of birds over the coming months.”
It was a complicated and multiphase process to transport the kiwi from Kapiti Island to their new home in Shakespear.
“The Department of Conservation initially led a catch team to Kapiti Island in January to locate the next 20 birds and fit them with temporary radio transmitters. The catch team went back to the Island on Thursday to find the birds via transmitter and helicopter them to the main base on Kapiti where they received a blessing from Ngāti Toa and Te Ātiawa.
“The kiwi were then ferried off to the main island where they were flown to Auckland airport and transported by van to the park.”
The kiwi were welcomed into their new home where they were given a health check and fitted with a different radio transmitter. Shakespear Open Sanctuary project partners and supporters had a chance to see the kiwi up close before the birds were taken out into bush areas within the sanctuary.
“The birds were placed into artificial burrows in male and female pairings nearby existing kiwi habitat areas.
“We will monitor the kiwi daily via radio telemetry until the birds appear to be settled. We will then reduce tracking to twice a week.”
Maintaining the pest-free environment is also a key focus for the park’s staff and volunteers.
“We regularly check the sanctuary for pests and will be planting 15,000 trees each winter for the next decade to create new habitat for the kiwi and other threatened species within the park.”
The release was made possible thanks to the support of Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Inc (SOSSI), New Zealand Defence Force, Department of Conservation, Ngāti Toa, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Manuhiri, Kiwis for Kiwi, Foundation North, Ministry for the Environment, Watercare Services and Air New Zealand.