New kiwi nesting season off to a flying start

The start of the 2020/2021 kiwi nesting season has been good for one of the most prolific kiwi conservation initiatives in the country. The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust’s Maungataniwha Kiwi Programme in inland Hawke’s Bay collected eight eggs in the first two weeks of September, five of which were viable.

A third egg-lift is scheduled for this week and Trust staffer Barry Crene said he expected to retrieve many eggs over the next month or so.

The Maungataniwha Kiwi Programme now comprises 49 paired male kiwi, up by 11 from last season.

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust hopes that the 2020/2021 kiwi nesting season will be a better one than last year’s, when dry conditions across the North Island resulted in kiwi producing fewer eggs than normal.

More than half of the birds monitored as part of the Maungataniwha Kiwi Programme failed to build second-clutch nests or produce an expected second set of viable eggs.

The eggs collected by the Trust are delivered to the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua for incubation and the resulting chicks will be sent to predator-proof enclosures to be reared until they are large enough to defend themselves against predators in the wild.

Fully-fledged chicks released back into the forest as part of the project have an approximately 70 percent chance of survival. This survival rate contrasts starkly with the five percent chance that kiwi have of making it to adulthood if hatched in the bush and left unprotected against predators.

In addition to the Maungataniwha Kiwi Programme the Trust runs a series of native flora and fauna regeneration projects. These include a drive to increase the wild-grown population of Kakabeak (Clianthus maximus), an extremely rare type of shrub, and the re-establishment of native plants and forest on 4,000 hectares currently, or until recently, under pine.

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About the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust was established in 2006 to provide direction and funding for the restoration of threatened species of fauna and flora, and to restore the ngahere mauri (forest lifeforce) in native forests within the Central North Island.

It runs eight main regeneration and restoration projects, involving native New Zealand flora and fauna, on three properties in the central North Island. It also owns a property in the South Island’s Fiordland National Park.