29 Apr 2017

Little bird in the big city - Kiwi head to Auckland

6:22 am on 29 April 2017

Twenty rare kiwi are making the move to the big city from their remote island homes.

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

The Little Spotted Kiwi Photo: Tom Lynch

The little spotted kiwi, the second rarest breed, are due to be released in Auckland's Shakespear Regional Park this afternoon where it is hoped Aucklanders may eventually encounter them.

Ten female birds from Kāpiti Island near Wellington and 10 males from Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf were taken and will make their new home among the park's pest-free sanctuary.

Auckland Council senior ranger Matt Maitland said the birds are the smallest kiwi breed, so are vulnerable to predators.

The move would be very disruptive but it was vital to get different populations established around the country, he said.

"It's a high risk, high return conservation intervention.

"It's a completely alien and foreign experience for them to be picked up, handled, boxed, moved in noisy, vibrating machines and put into a completely foreign landscape with new neighbours."

The birds would have to adjust to their new home and new neighbours, he said.

If they settle well, the Auckland Council hopes to introduce another 20 birds next year to create a more diverse breeding pool.

There are 1500 little spotted kiwi, and though most of them are on islands, there are two other mainland populations - in Zealandia in Wellington and in Cape Sanctuary in Hawke's Bay.

Mr Maitland said they were special birds who would melt the heart of anyone who came in contact with them.

"The public can freely access the park at any time to experience kiwi, and being right next to our biggest urban centre just makes that available for people."

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