10 Aug 2023

After 150-year absence the cry of the kiwi reaches Karori in Wellington

11:44 am on 10 August 2023
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Kiwi released in Wellington are thriving and spreading to different areas of the city (file photo) Photo: DOC / Rod Morris

The rare sound of kiwi calling is returning to western Wellington suburbs after 150 years.

Earlier this year, 63 kiwi were released into the city's wild south-west - and the native birds are spreading far and wide.

Capital Kiwi Project lead Paul Ward said one of the birds they monitored, Pita, had been venturing back towards the city. Pita was recently spotted near the popular Skyline Walkway at the back of Karori.

"Most of the birds that we released in November and May have set up shop, are putting on weight, and are going strong out west, but we've got a couple of adventurers who've tapped into that Kiwi explorer spirit and they've been sighted on the western fringes of Karori," Ward said.

A man wearing a cap stands behind a tree trunk with a camera trap attached to the trunk.

Paul Ward setting up a remote camera to capture images of kiwi earlier this year. Photo: Dave Allen / www.daveallen.photography

The successful relocation of kiwi comes after many years of intensive predator control in the area.

Stoats had been "smashed to extremely low levels", Ward said.

"I want to pay tribute to the epic community effort that's led to this. The farmers, Meridian, iwi, mana whenua, the four wheel drivers, mountain bikers, grannies, mountain biking grannies who have gotten out there checking traps for the past five years to deliver this. It's a pretty special moment.

"This is Wellingtonians being guardians of a taonga species that we take so much of our identity from."

The number one thing people could do to protect the kiwi was keep dogs on leads in Wellington's western reserves in Mākara, Karori, and on the Skyline track. Dogs should also be kept on residents' properties at night and people should report any sightings of dogs in the new kiwi territories, Ward said.

While it was unlikely people would spot the nocturnal birds during the day, their shrill cries carried a long distance at night, he said.

"If we're creating a noise control issue of kiwi calling at night, then job done."

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