Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and Ngāti Tamaoho together with Auckland Council are bringing north island brown kiwi back to Ngaherenui o Kohukohunui – the Hunua Ranges.
Tipa Compain, chairman of Wharekawa Marae Trust, says Paoa-Whanaunga of the marae are fully behind the repatriation of kiwi which they consider taonga (a natural treasure).
“We look forward to working with the other mana whenua tribes and Auckland Council to nurture the kiwi,” Compain says.
Mayor Phil Goff says an initial six birds, to be released on March 31, will be the first kiwi to re-populate the southern part of the Auckland region.
“It’s fantastic we can bring kiwi back to south Auckland,” Goff says. “This release has the potential to make a significant contribution to kiwi recovery nationally.”
Rigorous pest control programme carried out across the Hunua Ranges has made it possible for kiwi to return to the area for the first time in decades. The council and its partners plan to release at least 40 kiwi into the regional park over the next six years.
“The Hunua Ranges has 17,000 hectares of ample space and sufficient pest protection for a large population of kiwi to re-establish their homes,” Goff says. “It is critically important to continue pest control throughout the Auckland region to enable our native wildlife to thrive.”
Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore farms adjacent to the Hunua Ranges and has been involved and supportive of the forest’s pest control programme which includes intensive pest control in the 1500 hectare Kōkako Management Area and an aerial bait project (using 1080) carried out in mid-2015.
“The Hunua Ranges pest control programme is an ongoing success story – from being in a position where no kōkako chicks fledged in early 2015 to a record season in 2016 and 2017.
“Pest numbers are still low enough in the Kōkako Management Area that brown kiwi can now be released.
“Thanks needs to go to iwi, our wonderful volunteers, our neighbours and especially to Auckland Council staff involved in this award winning project. A fantastic result,” says Cr Cashmore.
Local iwi will welcome the first kiwi from Kuaotunu on the Coromandel Peninsula and Hauauru Rawiri, kaihautū for Ngāti Paoa, says the return of kiwi to the rohe (tribal area) is special.
“Kiwi are taonga, of cultural importance for Māori and of ecological significance to the forest. Seeing these hidden birds of Tāne return home is potentially the catalyst for the repatriation of more endangered fauna and flora.”
However, Rawiri says it is important that everyone, including the local community, schools, iwi, businesses, council and central government, works together to ensure the sustainability of the kiwi in the rohe.