12 Nov 2018

'We think it can be a safe place for kiwi to live'

6:30 pm on 12 November 2018

Kiwi could soon be roaming through Wellington backyards if an ambitious project to kill their predators is successful.

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Capital Kiwi founder Paul Ward and Terawhiti Station director Michael Grace. Photo: RNZ / Dan Dalgety

The community group Capital Kiwi wants to set 4400 traps to eradicate stoats, ferrets and weasels over the next three years.

Twenty-thousand hectares of public and private land from the south-west corner of Wellington, up to Porirua in the north, will be set with traps.

The first trap was set at Terawhiti Station in Makara on Monday.

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Wellington Mayor Justin Lester next to a Goodnature A24 trap. Photo: RNZ / Dan Dalgety

The founder of Capital Kiwi, Paul Ward, said he wants Wellington to have its own wild kiwi so that locals can see the native bird.

"More tourists than locals have encountered kiwi ... [Most of us have probably seen them] in a zoo nocturnal house, or on an off-shore island, or we might associate it with the backblocks or a remote national park - and that's not really right in terms of our relationship to our taonga."

He said they hope kiwi will thrive in Wellington if they get rid of some of their main predators.

"The habitat [in Makara] is pretty sweet for kiwi... it's a space that we think can be a safe place for kiwi to live."

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Capital Kiwi wants to eradicate stoats, ferrets and weasels from 22,000 hectares of public and private land in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Dan Dalgety

Local resident Ted Smith, who is 90 years old, helped set the first trap.

"We've noticed a big increase in bird life here, particularly the tui and the wood pigeon. We want some of these strong kiwi that can fight back and make it their home."

Paul Ward said they've raised $3 million for the project. The trap network includes DOC 250s and Goodnature A24s, which reset themselves and transmit information.

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