The first ever pure white kiwi hatched in captivity has died.
Manukura, a North Island brown kiwi, was born in 2011 at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, north of Masterton.
She was the first of three white kiwi that hatched at the centre between 2011 and 2012.
Centre general manager Emily Court said rangers noticed Manukura was not eating and was losing weight earlier this month.
She said the kiwi was taken to Massey University where surgery was done to remove an infertile egg and part of her left ovary.
"The surgeries went well but were not enough to save the ailing kiwi whose health continued to deteriorate in the weeks following the operation.
"Manukura passed away peacefully at 12.50pm on 27 December 2020 with rangers and veterinary staff present."
Court said it was one of the saddest days the wildlife centre had ever experienced.
"Manukura is very much a part of the Pūkaha family and we have always felt so blessed to have Manukura to help us to tell the Aotearoa's conservation story."
She said when Manukura hatched, she was hailed as a huge blessing by Māori and local iwi Rangitane o Wairarapa, who saw her as a unifying symbol to help guide their future relationship with Pūkaha.
"They consider her a taonga [treasure] and tribal elders bestowed her with the Māori name; Manukura, meaning 'of chiefly status'."
Department of Conservation Wairarapa operations manager Kathy Houkamau was the manager at the wildlife centre when Manukura hatched.
"She was a fantastic ambassador for Pūkaha, kiwi, conservation and tourism in Wairarapa and we are all very sad that she has passed," Houkamau said.
"Over the past 10 years, she delighted multitudes of people and in her own quiet way shone a spotlight on the precarious plight of kiwi in the wild. She will be sorely missed."