The release of little spotted kiwi birds took place in April of 2017. I was honoured to be invited to attend and share the article below to document this time in New Zealand history.
For the first time since the late 19th century, little spotted kiwi birds roam free on New Zealand’s mainland. The celebration and release of twenty kiwi at Shakespear Regional Park was an event more than five years in the making.
It’s a dream made possible by a lot of hard work, planning, and protection by volunteers, park rangers, Auckland Council, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and other benefactors. Shakespear Park is an open sanctuary, protected by a predator-proof fence.
We sat with a small crowd in anticipation of the start of the Powhiri (a traditional Maori welcome ceremony). While we ignored the rain, we were glad to have a seat undercover. A hush fell over the crowd as the NZ nocturnal birds arrived, carried in double crates purpose-built by a team of volunteers that included my husband.
More information about the kiwi release
- After the ceremony, the birds were released in pairs in several locations within the 500 hectares of protected land of Shakespear Regional Park.
- Hiking at night near the waterfall gully, one can sometimes hear the kiwi.
- By bringing male and female kiwi birds from different islands, genetic diversity is ensured.
- Little spotted kiwi are the smallest and second-rarest of the five species of kiwi birds. Kiwis are endemic to the country and are the National bird of New Zealand.
- One of my favourite things said during the speeches, “We have seen lots of damage since the European settlement. Today, we are starting to repair that damage.” Also, something to think about, “We don’t deserve this. We humans are doing a terrible job of protecting our environment.”
- If you want to see kiwi birds foraging around in the scrub, check out the video on this article on Stewart Island.
Places to see kiwi birds in New Zealand
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