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Case study - Kiwi management around Ohiwa Harbour

The Whakatane Kiwi Project

The Whakatane Kiwi Project is enormously successful.

Since 1999, when four breeding pairs were found by the Department of Conservation in the Ohope reserves, over 300 North Island brown kiwi chicks have been raised in or released to local reserves.

Whakatane is the only place in New Zealand where kiwi live in such numbers so close to an urban area.

The Project aims to ensure that kiwi thrive and prosper in the Whakatane district by restoring kiwi populations through public support and landowner co-operation. The Project manages kiwi in the Whakatane area under a memorandum of understanding between DOC and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. The Project works on joint DOC, Ngati Awa and Whakatane District Council administered land (Ohope Scenic Reserve, Moutohora Island, Mokorua Scenic Reserve and Kohi Point Scenic Reserve), private forestry land (Waiotahe), Maori Trust land (Wainui, Omataroa) and other private land (Wainui).

There have been many contributors to the success of the Project. One of the most significant contributions is the 'hands on' management undertaken by current project manager, Bridget Palmer, her predecessors and hundreds of volunteers. The groups work to control predators, such as possums, rodents, mustelids and cats, and monitor kiwi in the core protection areas of the Whakatane and Ohope reserves.

Another contributor to the Project's success is the unique partnership supporting it. This partnership involves Ngati Awa, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Whakatane District Council. The Whakatane Kiwi Trust oversees the project and carries out fundraising, corporate sponsorship, volunteer and education programmes.

Project field staff and volunteers have found, through tracking the kiwi using telemetry equipment, that many of the birds are migrating south from Whakatane and Ohope as far as Stanley Road and sometimes beyond toward Taneatua.  The team work closely with landowners, foresters and residents in these areas, so that kiwi are afforded greater protection in their travels. Long term, the Project hopes to bring more landowners on board and extend predator control activities to their land, so that kiwi and other native wildlife have safe havens all around Ohiwa.