1 Oct 17: Kiwis for Kiwis

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has been selected as a prominent site to make a significant contribution long-term to the population of New Zealand’s national bird.

As the country’s largest mainland ecological island, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari (SMM) has been selected due to its location within the North Island, and for its idyllic environment within its 47 kilometre pest-proof fence.

SMM lead guide Tali Jellyman says future goals for the reserve are both exciting and a good challenge.

“Currently we have between 150-200 kiwis on the mountain that have hopefully paired and are breeding,” Tali says.

“In recent times, we have released 76 birds on this mountain and this project will see a big increase in that, with an overall goal to have up to 680 pairs here, plus immature kiwi too.”

Backed by Kiwis for Kiwi and the Department of Conservation (DOC), the goal of the investment strategy is to take the current statistics and flip them into the positive throughout the next five years. Currently with a national decline each year of two percent, the aim is to create a two percent increase in population per year.

“It has been identified that we have great potential to support and protect a large population of Western brown kiwi. There has been a focus here on growing the population naturally within our fenced environment and on offshore islands too.”

Through Operation Nest Egg kiwi chicks once hatched are kept in captivity away from predators and released when they reach a minimum weight requirement in the hope that they can survive attacks. Thanks to its fencing and ecological status, kiwi chicks can be released into SMM’s environment very early on in their life.

Coincidentally, this great news comes at a time when the kiwi is in the spotlight with October being Save the Kiwi month.

Kids can visit Maungatautari for free over the month of October, when accompanied by a paying adult (conditions apply).

“We have a few different activities planned for over the school holidays too including storybook making workshops and more,” says Tali.

Kids can get in on the environment action all year around at SMM with the Kiwi Guardian Programme, where kids can follow a map and find a special key word, which can be entered on the DOC website afterwards earning them a special reward which will arrive in the post.

For more info: www.sanctuarymountain.co.nz