Hundreds turned up at events to celebrate the 200th release of kiwi that have been reared on Matakohe Island.
Two events - one at the Ōnerahi Yacht Club and another at Te Whānau a Rangiwhakaahu Marae - took place on Sunday last week, with around 420 people taking the opportunity to see a live kiwi.
Six accredited handlers from Kiwi Coast, Northland Regional Council (NRC), and Friends of Matakohe Limestone Island (FOMLI) caught five kiwi at dawn on the island, before bringing them to the mainland.
Each kiwi was also fitted with an ID chip and transmitter to monitor their health and dispersal after their release.
At both events, attendees heard from certified handler Todd Hamilton about the work done to reach the milestone of 200 kiwi.
Todd Hamilton of Kiwi Coast addresses the crowd at Rangiwhakaahu Marae. Photo / Kieran Pullman
Hamilton called the day “a celebration of success and a celebration of teamwork” marked by a whakawātea.
The whakawātea was followed by a naming ceremony, in which the 200th kiwi was bestowed with the name Te Ao Tahi.
Around 120 people attended the first event.
“It’s very special. There’s nothing quite as special as people seeing their own kiwi,” Hamilton said.
Accredited kiwi handler Cam McInnes with Te Ao Tahi at release. Photo / Kiwi Coast
Hamilton said to have made it this far, it had been all about teamwork.
“It’s all the community groups working together.”
Matakohe is a “Kiwi Creche”, which raises 10-day-old chicks until they are strong enough to fight off a stoat.
The kiwi are then taken to the mainland, and released into pest-controlled areas, courtesy of Tūtūkākā Landcare and Backyard Kiwi.
The day also marked the 20th anniversary of the Tūtūkākā Landcare Coalition.
A second pōwhiri courtesy of Te Whānau a Rangiwhakaahu Marae occurred before the release of the five kiwi, which were released at different sites within Tūtūkākā Land Care’s 11,000-hectare predator controlled area.
About 300 people attended the pōwhiri.
Kaumatua Aperahama Edwards named two of the kiwi Aorangi and Tawhiti Rahi after two of the islands in the Poor Knights group off the Tūtūkākā Coast.
Kaumatua Aperahama Edwards, Te Whānau a Rangiwhaka with Tahwhiti rahi at the release site. Photo / Kieran Pullman
The ongoing project is a collaboration between the Northland Regional Council, the Whangārei District Council, FOMLI, Backyard Kiwi and Kiwi Coast.
It’s the only project of its kind in Northland.
Hamilton said the kiwi showing wasn’t a “tourist attraction” but a way to spread awareness about the damage dogs can do to kiwi.
He highlighted the fact that while stoats have been a relatively easy target in terms of pest control, managing dogs has been nearly impossible, which is why teaching people to keep their dogs on a leash is so important.
One squeeze from a canine can result in catastrophic injuries for kiwi.
The kiwi released on Sunday each surpassed the weight of 1250 grams, strong enough to fend off a stoat. Three were female, and two were male.
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