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Auckland Council plays matchmaker

Media release

Published: 20 April 2017

Love will be in the air next week when Auckland Council reintroduces 20 single little spotted kiwi to Shakespear Open Sanctuary on Saturday 29 April. The release will significantly contribute to the national conservation of the smallest and second-rarest of kiwi species.

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.”

The kiwi will be welcomed with a pōwhiri from Ngāti Manuhiri, before being released in secluded bush areas across Regional Park and New Zealand Defence Force land within the sanctuary where they will be free to roam, get to know each other and find a mate.

Albany Ward Councillor Wayne Walker says Shakespear Open Sanctuary provides plenty of space for the kiwi to mix and mingle.

“Shakespear is a fenced 500-hectare wildlife sanctuary which has been pest-free for five years. It provides a safe and suitable habitat for the kiwi to live and cosy up together,” he says.

The Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Inc. (SOSSI) has played an important role in helping the council make the open sanctuary a safe haven suitable for repopulating kiwi.   

“Our volunteers have worked for over a decade to establish this open sanctuary and return native wildlife. We are delighted the community and park visitors will be able to experience kiwi-calling in this popular regional park,” says SOSSI Chair Peter Jackson.

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 partners who have helped to make this kiwi release a reality include: SOSSI, New Zealand Defence Force, Department of Conservation, Ngāti Manuhiri, ART Confederation, Kiwis for Kiwi, Foundation North, Ministry for the Environment and Watercare Services.

About Shakespear Open Sanctuary:

  • Shakespear Open Sanctuary is a 500-hectare pest-free peninsula isolated from the mainland by a 1.75km coast to coast pest proof fence. Animal pests were eradicated in 2011.
  • The open sanctuary integrates conservation with recreation and farming and is visited by over 550,000 people each year.
  • Kiwi at Shakespear Open Sanctuary was planned right from the inception of the open sanctuary concept. The planning for the reintroduction of little spotted kiwi began in 2012.
  • The open sanctuary includes the publicly accessible Shakespear Regional Park. Land managed by New Zealand Defence Force and Watercare Services Ltd are included within the sanctuary but are not open to public access.
  • The open sanctuary is managed by Auckland Council with community partner SOSSI.