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Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust passes 400 kiwi milestone

A leading Hawke’s Bay conservation trust has released its 400 th kiwi back into the bush. The Forest Lifeforce

Restoration Trust celebrated the event with a lunch for its conservation partners held last week at the Kiwi for

kiwi charity’s new kiwi crèche in Napier.

The event was attended by 40 people from the world of kiwi conservation, including representatives from the

National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua, where eggs from the trust’s properties are incubated and hatched, The

Cape Sanctuary, where the resulting chicks are crèched until they are large enough to defend themselves

against predators, Kiwis for kiwi and the Department of Conservation, which run the Operation Nest Egg kiwi

conservation initiative, and the Ngāti Pahauwera Development Trust, the trust’s mana whenua partner.

“We wanted to mark this milestone by recognising the amazing efforts of all the groups and people we work

with and depend on,” said trust Chairman Simon Hall. “We’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and

over that time contacts have turned into partnerships, and partnerships into enduring friendships.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that without them all, what we do would simply not be possible. It is absolutely a

partnership of equals. The complex equation that lets us all grow heaps of young kiwi to put back into our

forests just wouldn’t work if one of the elements wasn’t there. Our partners are all dedicated conservation

professionals who do an astounding job, often for little recognition or reward other than knowing that they’re

doing something worthwhile.”

Following the lunch two chicks reared from eggs collected on the trust’s property in the Maungataniwha

Native Forest south of Te Urewera were released into the bush at its other property in the 11,400ha Pohokura

Forest between Taupo and Napier. The trust has been successful in re-establishing a viable, self-sustaining kiwi

population at Maungataniwha and plans to repeat the exercise at Pohokura. It aims to release up to 200 kiwi

there by 2024. The first, the 300 th bird resulting from the trust’s conservation work, was released in 2019.

The two chicks were released by Kiwis for kiwi executive director Michelle Impey and the National Kiwi

Hatchery’s Emma Bean.

A small number of kiwi are already present at Pohokura, which has the potential to support as many as 500

breeding pairs within the species’ natural geographic range.

Re-establishing kiwi at Pohokura supports the long-term goal of the national Kiwi Recovery Plan; to reach

100,000 kiwi by 2030 through growing populations of all kiwi species by at least two percent a year, restoring

them to their former distribution and maintaining their genetic diversity.

Eastern brown kiwi are the least managed and fastest declining of the four regional populations. Establishing a

population of around 100 pairs within five years at Pohokura will make a significant contribution towards the

recovery of this species, Mr Hall said.

For the first three years a sample of kiwi released each year at Pohokura will be fitted with radio-transmitters

so that their dispersal and survival can be monitored.

Mr Hall said he hoped Pohokura would ultimately help re-populate neighbouring areas with kiwi.

“Just as Maungataniwha can now be the source of kiwi to re-stock Pohokura, so we hope that ultimately

Pohokura kiwi will make their way naturally to neighbouring areas such as the Whirinaki Conservation Forest,

which is also being made safe for them.”

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust was established in 2006 to provide direction and funding for the

restoration of threatened species of fauna and flora in native forests within the Central North Island. In

addition to the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project the Trust runs a series of native flora and fauna regeneration

projects. These include a drive to increase the wild-grown population of Kakabeak (Clianthus maximus), an

extremely rare type of shrub.

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