The kiwis are here

From the Tiritiri Matangi ArchivesEditor: Zane BurdettBulletin No.14Date: August 1993

In fact, since the five pairs of little spotted kiwi arrived, they’ve been here, there and everywhere on Tiritiri – exploring what is now their new home.

They arrive on the 4th of July – ‘Kiwi Independence Day’. That day, over 500 people; babies, children, teenagers, adults, young and old, officials, sponsors, scientists, reporters and Yamagata whenua  – had waited. They had waited together on a ridge under a great cloudy sky with a cool wind blowing – but the wait was worth it! The was the first public release of the little spotted kiwi. Maybe on this day the number of people in recent history to have seen a living little spotted kiwi in the feather had probably doubled!

The kiwis arrive by helicopter at about 3pm accompanied by representatives of Ngtai To a and Te Ottawa, tangata whenua of Kapiti Island, the Minister of Conservation Mr Denis Marshall and DoC staff. They were greeted by representatives of Te Kawerau a Maki, tangata whenua of Tiritiri Matangi. Following speeches by officials and Dell Hood and Mel Galbraith – 4 birds were taken by DoC staff and shown to the gathering. All the birds were taken to their released sites and placed into prepared burrows. 

The arrival of the little spotted kiwi on Tiritiri was made possible by the Department of Conservation’s Kiwi Recovery Programme, supported by the BNZ and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and the commitment made by yourselves – the Supporters – to ensuring the viability of the Tiritiri Matangi project.

In the days following their release the birds’ nightly movements were recorded by Sibilla Girardet, an Auckland University post graduate student, assisted by Chris Te Pay. Shaarine Boyd of DoC monitored their roosting sites during the day. 

Arrival of the little spotted kiwiLeft: Dick Veitch holding a kiwiRight: Preparing to carry the kiwiPhoto credit: Val Smytheman

In their first nights all the birds, except those in Bush 22, split up. It appears that the females remained relatively close to their release areas in comparison to the males who explored large areas of the island. One bird was recorded as having travelled from the North of the Island to the ligthouse and back again in one night.

Sadly, only days after their release one male bird died as a result of injuries received when its transmitter become entangled in vegetation. Because of this the remaining birds were re-captured and their transmitters were removed to reduce further risk of death.

Since then two birds, in addition to the Buss 22 pair, have got together and have been heard calling in duet (one after the other) – a sign of possible pairing as the birds are coming into the breeding season. It would appear the birds are settling in well.