Rotoroa Island is helping grow little kiwi into big kiwi, thanks to a partnership between Auckland Zoo and the volunteer conservation group Thames Coast Kiwi Care. As part of Operation Nest Egg, we’re all working together to nurture and protect the little brown Coromandel kiwi—the rarest of the four populations of brown kiwi.
Eggs collected by volunteers from an intensively trapped area of
forest in Te Mata were incubated at Auckland Zoo before being
released on Rotoroa Island in 2015. And the predator-free sanctuary
of Rotoroa Island has proven to be a great place to grow up for
five healthy 'teenage' kiwi, who headed home to Te Mata in the
Coromandel in March.
Rotoroa Island chair Barrie Brown says seeing Rotoroa Island
provide a haven for chicks, and then seeing them return to the wild
as young adult birds, is hugely rewarding. "It's a testament to the
hard work of a great many people; it's a real community
Thames Coast Kiwi Care (TCKC) chair Richard
Moyle said it was a great day for his dedicated team of volunteers.
"The return of kiwi to Te Mata is truly a milestone for our small
volunteer organisation, which operates largely out of sight of
public gaze. Future generations of kiwis can only be grateful for
the generous and ongoing assistance of Auckland Zoo, Rotoroa Island
Trust and the Department of Conservation in making our colony of
Coromandel brown kiwi a self-sustaining population."
Auckland Zoo birds keeper Natalie Clark has been involved in the
full life-cycle of the birds-from egg collection through to
incubation, hatching, rearing, releasing the chicks and being part
of the mustering team, to locating and rounding up the kiwi for
"We've put these little chicks on Rotoroa and within five months
they've tripled in size," says Natalie. "It's been an incredible
team effort to get to this day, with our Rotoroa colleagues
providing a safe home for the birds to flourish. It now feels great
to be bringing these birds back to Te Mata where the TCKC
volunteers are putting so much work into trapping.
"As long as holiday makers and Coromandel locals keep their dogs
on a lead when they're in kiwi country, we have a chance to save
these special birds and see them thrive."
To date, more than 30 kiwi have been released onto Rotoroa
Island, with 5 returned to Te Mata and 3 translocated to Motutapu
Island. The 2016-17 kiwi breeding season is underway and public are
welcome to join us for kiwi releases; stay up to date with all our
upcoming releases by keeping an eye on our website or liking us on Facebook.