15 Dec 2018

Dozens of rowi kiwi released into the wild

8:02 am on 15 December 2018

Twenty-seven rowi kiwi have been released into the wild near Fox Glacier after their previous habitat became too crowded.

North Island brown kiwi

A rowi kiwi Photo: Supplied: Scimex

The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Te Rūnanga ō Makaawhio released the juvenile birds at Lake Gault in the Omoeroa Ranges on Thursday.

A programme to increase rowi numbers in the Okārito Forest over the last 20 years had been deemed a success by DOC.

South Westland operations manager Wayne Costello said in 1995 there were only 160 rowi in the forest.

"DOC Rangers working on the recovery programme over the last 20 years have successfully filled Okārito Forest to near capacity and a new home needed to be found. On the brink of extinction just a short while ago, rowi have also had their threat classification status downgraded from Nationally Critical to Nationally Vulnerable."

Advancements in technology helped save the rowi population, he said.

"We have progressed from labour intensive ground searches for kiwi to technology that allows us to monitor nests from the air.

"This has allowed us to bring this population back from the edge of extinction to fill a forest and now start a new population of kiwi.

"One day we will be able to hear kiwi calling from the popular Matheson walk, and perhaps even from town."

The released rowi will be monitored.

Tomorrow Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage will launch the government's Kiwi Recovery Plan 2018-2028 and Kiwi release.

The event in Taranaki will see four kiwi released into the wild.