The eight kiwi were released onto the sheep and cattle farm at Mataia. This marked a major step towards the Adshead’s dream of establishing a self-sustaining kiwi population on 10,000 hectares along the south eastern shore of the Kaipara Harbour.
The Prime Minister named one of the kiwi released today, George, after Prince George who’s in New Zealand with his parents Prince William and Duchess Catherine.
BNZ Chief Marketing Officer, Craig Herbison named a second kiwi Arataki or leader. The Chair of Kiwis for kiwi™, Rob Fenwick, and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell also took part in welcoming and releasing the kiwi on the farm.
The Adsheads now have 22 Northland brown kiwi on their farm. The first kiwi were released on the property in May last year and have already begun breeding. So far one kiwi chick has been hatched on the property. The Adsheads are the first farmers to have released and bred kiwi on a working farm.
“It’s taken seven years of hard work – with help from the community – to get the farm to the point where we can provide a safe home for kiwi,” says Gill Adshead.
“We had to reduce the number of stoats, feral cats, rats and possums to a level where kiwi can live and breed on the farm. We’ve established a network of traps to keep these pests at a safe level.”
“Plus we’ve erected 8 kilometres of shade cloth fencing around the entire boundary of our 1300 hectare property. This keeps the kiwi inside the pest controlled area. It also helps reduce the number of dogs that stray onto the farm. Uncontrolled dogs are major killers of kiwi.”
“Our goal is to have pest control across 10,000 hectares on this side of the Kaipara Harbour. Within 10 years the shade cloth fence will breakdown and by then the kiwi will be able to spread out safely from our farm,” says Kevin Adshead.
“Our dream is to have a robust, self-sustaining kiwi population spread across 10,000 hectares of the south Kaipara. Kiwi lived here in the past. With the help of our local community, schools and other enthusiastic supporters we are able to bring them back.”
“We’ve held a pest control workshop with 60 people from neighbouring farms. Some farmers have begun putting traps on their properties.”
“We’ll expand that by working with farmers, the community, Kiwis for kiwi, DOC, iwi, everyone who wants to join us to bring kiwi back to the Kaipara.”
The Adshead’s vision of bringing ‘kiwi back to the Kaipara’ began in 2006. They established the Mataia Restoration project to restore 400 hectares of native bush and salt marsh on their 1300 hectare farm. They carried out pest control and with the help of community volunteers and local schools began planting native trees. They now plant around 4000 native trees a year on the farm. Corridors of native bush and stream banks have also been fenced to protect them from the farm’s cattle and sheep and to provide safe passage for wildlife.
“Having done all this work to restore our native bush our consultant ecologist, Jo Ritchie, said we could realistically look at releasing kiwi on the farm,” says Gill Adshead.
“We loved the idea and consulted DOC on whatwe would need to do to have kiwi on the property. Ongoing pest control and the shade cloth fence around the farm were the major things. When that was completed we had our first kiwi release in May last year.”
“Our target is to have a founder population of around 40 kiwi on the farm. We’ll be pretty close to that with this latest kiwi release,” says Gill Adshead.
The kiwi being released on Friday April 11 come from Motuora Island, a pest free island in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The island is managed by DOC and the Motuora Restoration Society.
Kiwi were once common throughout New Zealand. Now they’re endangered because of introduced pests – particularly stoats and feral cats – and because of uncontrolled dogs. Today, 95 percent of kiwi – living in areas where pests and dogs are not controlled – die before they reach breeding age.
Kiwis for kiwi executive director, Michelle Impey, says the Adshead’s contribution to saving kiwi is outstanding and inspirational.
“The work Gill and Kevin are doing, with their community, to bring kiwi back to the Kaipara is inspiring. I hope other communities will follow their lead. Together we can take kiwi from being endangered to everywhere,” says Michelle Impey.
Kiwis for kiwi is a non profit organisation that supports the work of more than 80 kiwi community groups around the country, providing funding for vital kiwi conservation, breeding and hatching programmes. Go to www.kiwisforkiwi.org (external site) to make your secure, online donation.
Kiwis for KiwiTM is the trading name of The Kiwi Trust. It is a new independent trust, carrying on work to save kiwi begun by the BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust in 2002. Thousands of New Zealanders have donated to this cause, with a vision to take kiwi from endangered to everywhere. Kiwis for kiwi raises and distributes funds to community, DOC and volunteer groups helping save kiwi throughout the country. The Kiwis for kiwi patron is Sir Graham Henry.