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It’s early evening at the Tawharanui Regional Park. This mainland sanctuary is home to threatened native fauna plus, on this evening, a dozen chatty kids from nearby Matakana Primary School. The group’s being taken on what’s been dubbed an ‘Owl Prowl’ but hopes are high they’ll spot a kiwi. Leading them are the Tawharanui resident ranger Maurice Puckett and one of the ‘founding mothers’ of the sanctuary, Jo Ritchie.

Kiwi Park Ranger Maurice Puckett testing his transmitter small

Park Ranger Maurice Puckett testing his transmitter.

Maurice reckons the hardest part of the evening will be to keep the noisy participants quiet, otherwise they may see very little. At Tawharanui there are native forest and green geckos, brown teal, robins, white heads and bell birds. Eventually the children get to commune with wetas and sand creatures, and then they find a kiwi…but not quite as they expect.

Kiwi White board keeps track of weeds and wildlife small

White-board keeping track of wildlife and unwanted weeds.