Eleven of New Zealand's rarest kiwi have been released to a sanctuary on the West Coast today.
The juvenile adult tokoeka kiwi, returned to the Haast Kiwi Sanctuary, were removed as eggs to be safely hatched at the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
The Haast tokoeka and its relative, the Okarito rowi, are the rarest kiwi species.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said, without protection from stoats, 95 percent of tokoeka chicks would be killed.
A community event was held in Haast today for the release of the birds.
"Today's homecoming is a milestone in the programme to increase tokoeka kiwi numbers from the low of 300 in the early 2000s to a population now of more than 400," Ms Barry said.
The Department of Conservation carries out intensive stoat control inside the 11,000 hectare sanctuary.
Ms Barry said the progress of the 11 kiwi would be monitored over the next year.