A special event for the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust took place recently when two pair of Kiwi were transferred from the Southern Enclosure to enjoy a freer lifestyle in the Northern Enclosure.
The first adult pair were Elmo and Tae Mai i te Po - both aged seven, and one of the Trust' most successful pairings, producing at least four chicks per season.
Elmo came to Maungatautari in 2006 from Tongariro National Park and the people of Tuwharetoa.
He fathered the Trust's first chick Huatahi in 2007.
Tae Mai i te Po came from the Otorohanga Kiwi House, also in 2006.
The pair were fitted with transmitters and kept in the smaller Southern Enclosure where they could be monitored and tracked.
Their release to the Northern Enclosure followed the removal of the tracking transmitters, meaning they will be left in peace to continue their part in repopulating the mountain for many years to come.
The two chicks also released were from eggs originally rescued from Taranaki.
They were taken to Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua under the BNZ sponsored Operation Nest Egg program where they were incubated, hatched and reared.
This saved them from most likely death at the hands of rodents and dogs among other roaming creatures that are known to kill Kiwi.
With its pest proof fencing, Maungatautari truly is a sanctuary to the Kiwi - our precious national icon.
A number of visitors, volunteers and Trustees took part in the first release for 2013.
Trustee Ted Tauroa blessed the Kiwi and surrounds before the honour of releasing the birds was given to members of the Scott family which has farmed Maungatautari for generations and owns land that forms part of the Northern Enclosure.
Current owners John and Penny Scott, and daughter-in-law Vanessa Scott did the honours, but only after Bill Scott, who turns 99 this year, released the first Kiwi.
Volunteers had pre-prepared likely Kiwi homes in hollow logs, and while three of the birds were happy to settle straight in, one wasted no time in taking 'flight' from the back door and was last seen scurrying for higher ground.
The Trust has a number of options available for visitors, including guided tours, walks, talks and lots of information, options for helping the trust and items to purchase from the Visitor centre. See www.maungatrust.org