More and more kiwi released

Cast from The Mountain check out a kiwi with Ranger Jess Fancy

Kiwi release season is in full swing with 34 kiwi having been released on Taranaki Maunga, with many more to come.

Over the next two months more than 100 kiwi are expected to be released at various sites across Taranaki Maunga.

A ceremony at Stratford Mountain House on March 21 marked the first kiwi release of the 2024 season. Those kiwi were raised at the Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rokokare, a long-term partnership between Taranaki Kiwi Trust and Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust, inland from Eltham.

Kiwi released this week in Te Papa-Kura-o-Taranaki near Lucy’s Gully on Kaitake and near York Road were the first kiwi to have come from Sanctuary Mountatin Maungatautari, in South Waikato, in partnership with Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and Save the Kiwi.

Taranaki Mounga Project co-director Sean Zieltjes says this season is a significant step-up in how many kiwi are being re-homed at Te Papa-Kura-o-Taranaki. “It’s fantastic for all involved to get to this position we’re at now. We’ve gone from kiwi being rare to becoming abundant on Taranaki Maunga.

“Along with self-sustaining populations of kiwi from previous years of translocations, we are adding 110 kiwi this year and we aim to increase numbers year on year, so it’s absolutely normal for kiwi to have repopulated the maunga.”

Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare ranger Jess Fancy said kiwi have been released on Taranaki Maunga from Rotokare Scenic Reserve for the past four years and it was cool to see kiwi numbers expanding with kiwi also coming from Maungatautari.

She estimated about 30 volunteers and staff from the partnership had been hands on in the past week. “It’s been a lot of work with lots of people involved. We’ve been capturing kiwi and checking they are over 1.2kg as that’s considered a safe weight to fend of predators, if need be. If under that weight we microchip them and release them back into the reserve.”

Jess added with growing numbers of kiwi in the national park and some moving beyond park boundaries, trapping in adjacent areas and getting dogs trained in kiwi aversion was important to protect kiwi. Kiwi raised at Rotokare are also released to sites on private land that have been extensively trapped.

DOC Taranaki Operations Manager Gareth Hopkins said the growth of kiwi on the maunga was another great reflection of the Partnership DOC has with Taranaki Mounga Project. “A huge amount of hard work has gone in to making the maunga a safe predator-free environment for these birds and this translocation programme is a real success everyone involved can be proud of,” he said.

Check out media coverage of the recent kiwi release at Kaitake: