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Species update - November 2019

Species update - November 2019

2 December 2019

By Dr Janelle Ward, Species Co-ordinator 

In my spare time over the past six months, I have been tackling our Maungatautari kiwi database to get it up to date and accurate. It’s amazing how easy it is for there to be errors in a database (and one can always can find more), especially with multiple users over time. It’s lucky I have a good amount of patience as this is pretty tedious work! However, the results are worth it in the end to know how we stand with our kiwi here at the maunga. So here are some highlights:
In total, there are 217 Western brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) in our database (Oct 25, 2019), this figure includes all of those figures below, plus some that have died and a few others that were being monitored for O.N.E. at other sites.
Since 2005, 114 kiwi have been imported to Maungatautari, with 109 of those thought to still be alive. These kiwi were from at least 10 sites including Otorohanga, Mananui, Waimarino Forest, Tongariro & multiple sites in Taranaki.  
There are currently 142 known live kiwi at Maungatautari: 

  • 132 within the main mountain enclosure, 
  • Two in the Northern Enclosure (temporary)
  • One in the Wetland (temporary)
  • Seven in the Southern Enclosure (2 on a transmitter)

Note those figures do not count all the babies hatched since kiwi were released to the main mountain! 
So far, SMM has exported 53 kiwi hatched at Maungatautari back into the wild, including 

  • Nine exported to Taranaki in 2011
  • 30 exported to Waimarino 2012-2014 and 2019
  • 14 exported to Tongariro between 2010-11

It has been interesting to see how many kiwi have come and gone from Maungatautari already. It is the hard work and dedication of previous experts including Chris Smuts-Kennedy, Mark Lammas, Nola Griggs-Tamaki, Jane Reeves, Rob Lichtwark and Kate Richardson who have collectively helped ensure such a genetically robust and diverse brown kiwi founding population. The good work continues with our current staff, DOC’s support and the massive undertaking of the Kiwis for Kiwi/ SMM kohanga project. 

Kiwi Releases

Our kiwi ranger is super busy coordinating and releasing western brown kiwi under our kohanga project with Kiwis for Kiwi. So far for this season a total of 19 kiwi have been released in various locations around and over the main mountain. Most kiwi chicks currently are hatched at either Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua or Pukaka at Mount Bruce, Masterton. There is a huge amount of coordination involved and a lot of work for each individual kiwi, from catching and monitoring “Dad” kiwi in the bush who incubates the egg, to uplifting the egg and transporting to a hatchery, followed by predictions of hatch dates, coordinating pick-ups, release logistics, vehicles, volunteers, food, etc. Of course the kiwi chicks each have their own wee plan and sometimes do not arrive when expected, including live chicks found in the bush instead of eggs! These wee guys are rescued as they are not in safe sites for chicks and are taken into quarantine for two weeks, tested for possible disease exposure, and if all clear, then released into SMM as a slightly older and wiser chick than those hatched from the egg.

Takahe

We are having a bumper season with takahe chicks this year with BOTH our breeding pairs hatching and raising two chicks each. This is especially hard work for our Coopers pair Puiaki and Brodie, as they do not have the help of a yearling helper (last year’s chick). Nancy and Ngutu Whero in the Tautari wetland, are being helped a great deal by young female “Rob”. All chicks are being monitored with the use of train cameras mainly and all appear to be growing fast and doing well. They are now entering a lower risk period so fingers crossed that they make it through into adulthood with no problems.  We continue to monitor the situation and provide updates via Facebook of any new or interesting videos found.