October is Save Kiwi Month and our national icon needs your support so generations to come can get to meet them.
Kiwis for kiwi Executive Director Michelle Impey explains the role they have in helping to save the kiwi population.
“It is the national campaign to raise awareness of the plight of kiwi, and to raise funds to support work being done on the ground to save them. It is led by Kiwis for kiwi, an independent charity that supports community-led kiwi conservation projects nationally by raising and distributing funds.”
Here in Taranaki our little guy Rockstar is probably one of the better known success stories thanks to the donations and support from the kiwi community.
“Rockstar had an unusual start to life. He’s the only kiwi we know of to have hatched in a car. He was collected from a nest by Taranaki Kiwi Trust, who you have helped to support, when he had started to break through his egg and rushed to Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua. By the time he arrived, he was fully hatched!”, says Michelle Impey.
Taranaki Kiwi Trust volunteer Kevin Stokes got an extra treat whilst transporting an egg to Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua in February.
“When I went in to do the egg lift in the morning I actually got a desertion coding and I thought buggar it I have missed out they’ve gone.
“When I got to the nest I found that he was still sitting there. I lifted the egg and found that there was a crack in it. I thought it is only just a little wee hole and I could see his beak so we will be safe.
By the time he left Uruti at 9:30am went home, had a shower and packed his gear he noticed the shell was starting to crack open quite a bit.
“I thought…. this is not going to turn out too good.
“I rang The Kiwi Encounter and said this is the scenario. They said there is a good chance I would be bringing them a chick. They told me how to repack the incubator and to keep monitoring so the bird has room to move if it does come out.”
By the time he had reached the iconic Awakino pub he had a fully hatched kiwi chick. The chick decided that its temporary incubation box being a chilly bin with a hot water bottle in it nestled on the front seat of Kevin’s car was a great place to enter the world.
“When I was born I was too impatient and couldn’t wait around so ended up being born in the car on the way to the Waitara maternity Hospital. Maybe the chick was trying to out do me!”
“The Kiwi Encounter had told me how to position the egg so that the chick could hatch properly. Normally when we carry the egg we put it in the chilly bin and the egg is laying across the seat and pointing at the driver. That way any car movement is not going to bother the egg.
“Because the chick was starting to hatch that wasn’t how the egg needed to be sitting. I had to turn it in the incubator the other way so I could pack socks on the sides of the egg so the ends were open and he could push out. He had to have room to push out of the shell.
After ensuring he had space and enough air all Kevin could do was keep an eye on the chick as it kicked its way out of the shell.
“As he is pushing out The Kiwi Encounter said that he creates a lot of energy and the heat rises dramatically inside the box. I had to keep pulling the temperature down so he didn’t get too hot.
“It certainly made for an interesting trip!”
As any parent knows travelling with a new born is an anxious experience.
“I stopped a few times but because I had it set up on the front seat of the car I could just reach across and lift the lid slightly. I had a proper temperature gauge set up in the box. I was finding all sorts of things inside the car to help prop the lid open. I just wanted to make sure he was OK.
“The Kiwi Encounter said to me to just leave him alone, don’t touch him but just let him be. Just ensure that he doesn’t get too hot and make sure he has enough air.”
As he arrived at the Kiwi Encounter he was surprised at the reaction of the staff even though they were expecting him to arrive with a chick.
“It was quite amazing the excitement they had to see me arrive with a chick in perfect healthy condition. They were all quite excited.”
Kevin says the whole experience has had a huge impact on him.
“It was the closest thing to seeing my own kids born. It certainly is an adrenalin rush! The whole event was quite exciting! I also felt quite helpless as I couldn’t really do anything for him.”
In September Rockstar was moved to Rotokare Scenic Reserve back in Taranaki as he had out grown the Kiwi Encounter.
“He’s living in Rotokare Scenic Reserve until he’s over 1.2kg in weight. Once he reaches that weight, he’s moving to Egmont National Park, where he and at least nine other special kiwi will be released with transmitters. The data captured from their wanderings will help tell us where kiwi go when they’re released into the park and the data will be used to help monitor kiwi populations going forward,” says Michelle.
“From an unusual start in life to an important job, Rockstar is a Very Important Kiwi. Thank you for your help in protecting him so that he could make this important contribution to kiwi research.
October is a busy time of the year as kiwi and predators move into breeding season.
“It is a busy time in the world of kiwi conservation. Kiwis are nesting, chicks are hatching and Operation Nest Egg is in full swing. Of course, that means that it’s breeding season for pests and predators as well so predator control programmes are also being ramped up again after the slightly quieter winter months.
“This is the ideal time to come together as the kiwi community and make as much noise as we can about the fantastic work that is going on and let people know how they can help”, says Michelle.
Save kiwi month has got auctions on Trade Me which includes a year’s supply of Whittaker’s chocolate!
“There are events happening around the country and we have the Great Kiwi Morning Tea. We have a new ambassador for our morning tea – the fantastic Michael Van de Elzen!
“Also new this year, we have the Great Dog Morning Tea! We wanted to include our canine pals and give them a way to help protect kiwi so if you or anyone you know who has a dog is near Waiatarua Reserve in Remuera, Auckland on Friday 21st October between 10am – 12pm, come along and say hello. There are some great prizes to be won.”
What your donation may buy:
$30 Buys one trap and trap box
$50 A kiwi health check
$75 Train one dog to avoid kiwi
$100 Protect one kiwi for an entire year
$1,200 Fund one year in the life of an Operation Nest Egg chick
$2,500 Buy one receiver to pick up transponder signals