kiwi reintroductions

Little spotted kiwi (photo G. Moon) became extinct on the mainland by about 1970, but survived because a few birds were introduced to predator-free Kapiti Island in 1912 or 1923, where they grew to the present population of about 1000. There were translocations to Hen, Red Mercury, and Long Islands in the 1980s, all of which appear to have been successful at establishing populations. None of these islands probably had little spotted kiwi historically, but they provide predator-free refuges. There have have been subsequent translocations to:

Tiritiri Matangi Island (220 ha, Hauraki Gulf east of Auckland). Introduction. 10 birds were translocated from Kapiti Island in 1993, and another 6 in 1995. While this species was not found on the island historically, the introduction was part of the Tiritiri Matangi restoration programme. Contact Roban Colbourne.

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (225 ha mainland restoration area surrounded by a mammal-proof fence), central Wellington, North Island. Reintroduction. 40 birds (22 males and 18 females) were translocated from Kapiti Island between July 2000 and July 2001, the first transfer of this species back to the North Island since their extinction here c 125 years ago. The reintroduction is part of the restoration program in the sanctuary following eradication of mammals inside the fence (see Little spotted kiwi have bred every year since release and have spread throughout the Sanctuary. Guided night walks provide an opportunity to hear and sometimes see these birds at night. Contact Raewyn Empson.


Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island). 10 Great Spotted Kiwi were translocated from Kahurangi National Park to Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project in May 2004. One bird injured in transit now in captivity as a founder for captive breeding. The other 9 settled in the release area with negligible dispersal. Birds transferred as true pairs exhibited less dispersal than artificial pairings. Breeding was detected in year 1 (one nest), with four nests in year 2. One chick has been located providing an opportunity to learn about development of this species. At 6 months this chick is still sheltering with both parents. 1 adult bird died by drowning. Monitoring at source site indicate a slightly elevated call rate, indicating no significant negative effect upon the source population 1 year after collection. A follow-up transfer was recommended and undertaken in June 2006 to increase the founder population. A source site 4km distant from 2004 site was slected.10 birds (4 pair, 2 female) were targeted but proved difficult to capture, with 7 birds transferred (3 pair,1 female). Birds were located and captured using certified night dog and handler. Birds held and transferred in individual transfer boxes which had been modified to prevent injury as occurred 2004. Helicopter transported after holding between 12 and 40 hours. All birds are radio tagged, including transmitters that detect and report on breeding activity. True pair again dispersed less than artificial pair. No displacement of resident birds from May 2004 was detected.Contact Matt Maitland.


North Island brown kiwi still survive in several mainland locations, but are declining due to predation on juveniles. There were several early translocations of kiwi to islands where they did not historically occur, resulting in the current populations on several islands in the Bay of Islands and on Kwau, Little Barrier and Ponui Islands in the Hauraki Gulf. There were also several attempts to re-introduce kiwi to mainland areas in southern Northland, Hawkes Bay and the King Country, using birds salvaged from areas being cleared or logged in Northland. These have all but died out, which is now deemed fortunate given the high level of genetic differentation in this species (Colbourne & Robertson 2000). Recent translocations have been done in the context of Operation Nest Egg, where eggs are taken from wild birds, hatched in captivity, and juveniles released when they reach a size (> 1 kg) where they are not vulnerable to stoats.

Motukawanui Island (ca. 400 ha, Cavalli Islands, Northland). 10 captive-bred or captive-reared kiwi were released, ca. 1997. The birds had transmitters, and were closely followed to assess whether they could cope with the transition from captivity to the wild. Birds used typical kiwi daytime roost sites under dense vegetation right from the start, suggesting that captive-reared birds would be able to cope with predators. Some breeding has now taken place on this island. See Colbourne & Robertson (2000).ContactHugh Robertson.

Northland. Supplementation. As of mid 2000, 30 juveniles had been returned to Northland sites where eggs or young chicks were originally collected. Their annual survival rate (0.66) has been slightly but not significantly lower than that of wild-bred juveniles in the same area (0.80). Two of the oldest males have paired with wild birds, and bred in 1999/00. See Colbourne & Robertson (2000). Contact Hugh Robertson.

Tongariro. Supplementation. As of mid 2000, 13 captive-reared juveniles had been released to the wild and have had a high survival rate. See Colbourne & Robertson (2000). Contact Hugh Robertson.

Boundary Stream Mainland Island (ca. 800 ha managed mainland area, Hawkes Bay, near east coast of North Island). Reintroduction. 5 kiwi had been released as of February 2001, a male in March 2000, a female in May 2000, a male in June 2000, a female in January 2001, and a female in February 2001. These kiwi came from eggs removed from wild kiwi in the eastern Kaweka ranges. Eggs are transferred to captive incubation and rearing facilities at the Westshore Wildlife Centre, Napier, and chicks kept in captivity until they are at least 800 g. The birds released have been 3-4 months olds and weighed from 850-1150 g. Kiwi had slowly declined in the Boundary Stream area over many decades, and appear to have become extinct in the late 1990s. The extinction is attributed to exotic predators, particularly stoats. Control of rats, cats, mustelids and possums since 1996 has now reduced these predators to low levels, and the size of the juveniles released should ensure that they are not taken by stoats. 12 chicks had hatched in the reserve as of winter 2006, and there was a population of 22 birds with 6 breeding pairs. Contact Denise Fastier.

Pukaha/Mt Bruce. Kiwi of mixed lineage were transferred from captivity to the reserve. Contact Lynn Adams.

awharanui Open Sanctuary (588-ha predator fenced peninsula 90 km N of Auckland). Reintroduction. A total of 44 birds have been released (25 males, 19 females), including 15 birds in November 2006, 25 in November 2007 and 4 in September 2008. The birds mostly came from Operation Nest Egg, with eggs/chicks taken fromNorthland, raised briefly in captivity, then released temporarily on Motuora Island or Matakohe/Limestone Island until about 1200 g. Some Motuora Island born birds also included.Captured by day and night dogging, temporary radio tags fitted, recaptured and transported, and released in artificial burrow. All birds fitted with transponder. There had been no known deaths as of December 2008. One bird moved outside of the predator-proof fence. Breeding observed in 2007 (n = 1 egg, infertile) and 2008 ( 2x 1 egg nests assumed succesful hatches, and 2 active 2nd brood nests). Contact Matt Maitland.

Maungatautari (3400 ha mainland restoration area surrounded by a mammal-proof fence), Waikato, North Island. Reintroduction. 14 western North Island brown kiwi had been released as of December 2007, and the plan is to release at least 60 in total. Kiwi appear to have disappeared from the mountain about 100 years ago. Most of the birds are coming from “Operation Nest Egg” programmes, where eggs are taken from the wild in areas where stoats are abundant and juvenile survival therefore low, and the remainder are from captive breeding. All released birds are currently being monitored by radio telemetry. Breeding is closely monitored, and the first chick hatched in early December 2007. Contact Chris Smuts-Kennedy.

Tuhua/Mayor Island (1277ha, Bay of Plenty). Seven kiwi from a 8630-ha pine forest owned by Kiwi Foresty Group, eastern Bay of Plenty, have been translocated to Tuhua/Mayor Island (from Forest & Bird 321: 13).Mammalian predators, including Norway rats, kiore, feral pigs and feral cats were eradicated in 2000. Tuhua comproses mainly pohutukawa/hardwood forest with shrublands and wetlands. Kiwi chicks had been produced as of December 2007. Contact John Heaphy.

OkaritoBrownKiwi(Apteryxmantelli ‘Okarito’)

Okarito Forest. Supplementation. As for North Island brown kiwi, eggs or chicks are transferred to a safe environment for a year, then transferred back when about 1-year old. 6 captive-reared birds were released in 1996, and 12 in 1997. Instead of captive-rearing, chicks are now tranlocated to a predator-free island (Motuara) for their first year of life. 10 chicks were translocated to Motuara in December 1998, and another from Feburary-March 1999. Translocation back to Okarito was scheduled to begin in 1999/00. Contact John Lyall.


Doubtful Island (137 ha, Doubtful Island Group, Lake Te Anau) and Doubtful Island 2(25 ha, Doubtful Island Group, Lake Te Anau). 7 males and 2 female kiwi translocated from the Murchison Mountains, May 2002. Contact Andrew “Max” Smart.

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