Suspected kiwi chick hatching 'a great Christmas present'

11:42 am on 9 January 2018

Rangers at Shakespear Regional Park just north of Auckland are optimistic a kiwi chick has hatched - the first of a breading programme started last year.

A little spotted kiwi (photo provided by Wellington's Zealandia)

A little spotted kiwi (file photo). Photo: Kimberley Collins

Twenty of the rare birds from Kāpiti Island and Tiritiri Matangi Island were released into the regional park in March in a bid to establish a new population.

Rangers believe a male was incubating an egg last month - an inspection of the nest on Boxing Day found nothing - leading them to believe a chick has hatched.

Auckland Council open sanctuaries senior ranger Matt Maitland is optimistic a chick will be seen on a camera set up on the male's new roost.

"It's a great Christmas present - we are so happy with the progress made in the first part of this programme."

Mr Maitland along with fellow rangers and the Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society (SOSSI) worked to get the 20 kiwi into the park.

He said one bird has died by falling off a cliff, but the rest are going strong.

"A few months after putting the birds in the park there was a lot of shuffling around as the birds worked out who was who and who was where, they would have come with some established relationships from there original homes.

"What happened after a while, about late June, they were clustered into blue and white pins, boy and girl here, boy and girl there."

He said the programme aimed to get the population established quickly in order to make it less vulnerable.

"We need enough birds contributing so there is a strong genetic base, so we can see they have all paired up so it's a good sign."

SOSSI volunteer Maree Johnston spends her spare time monitoring the kiwi from the transmitters they carry.

"We go out twice a week, different people are rostered on and we check the park to see if we are getting an alive signal from every bird.

"Then we check where they are located on a grid reference so we can keep track of them," she said.

Mr Maitland said plans were already in motion to select another 20 spotted kiwi from Kāpiti Island to be released in the sanctuary in March.

"This is a chance for people to come to a regional park and experience kiwi, we identify as them but so many people have never seen one, so it's a chance to at least come and listen out for them and see the habitat they live in."

He said he hoped the thousands of people who would visit the park over the summer respected the no-dog rule and boundaries in order to give kiwi the best chance of surviving.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs