17 Sep 2020

Fund to increase kiwi bird population to 100,000

3:01 pm on 17 September 2020

Close to $20 million has been earmarked to aid plans to grow the kiwi bird population to 100,000 by 2030.

The North Island brown kiwi, Apteryx mantelli.

A North Island brown kiwi Photo: 123rf

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced the additional funding would be used to accelerate iwi and community efforts to protect kiwi as part of the Jobs for Nature package.

Increased predator control, more dogs trained in kiwi avoidance, and the Operation Nest Egg programme are among the activities to receive a boost, creating up to 100 new jobs over five years.

Charitable trust Kiwis for kiwi and the Department of Conservation will manage the funding over that time, that projects across the country have been invited to apply for.

"Work by iwi and community organisations such as Kiwis for kiwi, alongside private landholders and institutions has been essential in protecting kiwi in the wild and in increasing their local kiwi populations. The funding will benefit their work with kiwi," she said.

Sage said the goal was to turn the 2 percent decline in kiwi per year to a 2 percent increase.

"The funding should enable a scaling up of community kiwi restoration projects and create more predator-free land for kiwi," she said.

"Building on the work of local communities and private landowners such as iwi and farmers, the Forest Bridge Trust will use $8.5m of the new $19.7m in funding to create a 54,000-hectare predator-free corridor across Northland between the Kaipara Harbour and the Pacific Ocean, to be made safer for kiwi.

"Funding from Jobs for Nature will help to speed up the work that the Forest Bridge Trust is doing and create at least 40 new jobs at the peak of the project to support it."

Up to 100,000 hectares could be made safe for kiwi depending on where the funds are spent.

'The kiwi is genuinely running out of time'

Kiwis for kiwi executive director Michelle Impey welcomed the funding, saying it would enable kiwi conservation efforts over the country to do more work, faster.

"This funding really validates the work that community- and hapū/iwi-led kiwi conservation groups on the ground are doing, day in and day out," she said.

"The people and organisations that we work with are incredibly passionate about their mahi, but lack of funding limits how much they can do and how fast they can do it. More funding proves that their work is valuable and necessary, and empowers them to reach their goals faster."

The funding injection could help conservation efforts get ahead of the declining numbers, she said.

"The kiwi is genuinely running out of time - there's no beating around the bush here.

"This funding enables our teams to get ahead of the decline by restoring more native habitat, making more of that habitat safe from predators, working with dog owners to keep kiwi safe from their canine family members, and breeding more kiwi to release back into predator-managed habitats."

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