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Kiwi catch a waka to new home

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/04/2016

Three of the North Island's rarest kiwi have caught a waka to their new home in the Hauraki Gulf.

The adolescent birds were this weekend released into the predator-free environment of Motutapu Island as part of an effort by several conservation groups to save the Coromandel brown.

The three kiwi, two female and one male, were found as eggs in Thames, before being taken to Auckland Zoo for incubation before being raised on Rotorua Island.

The final leg of the journey to Motutapu, which has been a sanctuary since 2012 for about 25 kiwi, has now been in a waka.

Ngai Tai ki Tamaki chair James Brown said the mode of transport for the four-hour trip was a strong symbol.

"Transporting our taonga by waka hourua to their new home signified traditional protocols and rituals," he said.

"We have been entrusted as guardians of these birds by our Ngati Paoa brothers in the Coromandel and we wanted to deliver them safely in the way our ancestors would have."

There are only an estimated 1700 of the Coromandel brown kiwi left.

Motutapu Restoration Trust chairman Brett Butland said thousands of volunteers had given their time to save the birds.

"A lot of what we do is not glamorous but just sheer hard work which has made Motutapu a shining example of community conservation efforts," he said.

"We've given a new slant to the saying it takes a village to raise a child. While we will be looking after them while they're here, it has taken the dedication of many people to get them this far."

The effort has been a collaboration between the Motutapu Restoration Trust, Rotoroa Island Trust, Department of Conservation, Auckland Zoo, Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Tamatera and the Coromandel Kiwi Collective.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said the government had committed in its 2015 budget to reversing the 2 per cent annual decline of kiwi.

"Seeing the spirit and commitment of the groups involved in this project, I have no doubt we will succeed," she said.

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