Kiwi chick ends three decades of waiting

By Genevieve Helliwell

The first kiwi chick to come from Bay conservation land in over three decades has hatched.

After 35 unfertilised eggs from the only breeding pair of North Island brown kiwi in Otanewainuku forest, a kiwi named Pistachio hatched this week.

It's been more than 30 years since a kiwi chick from Otanewainuku forest has hatched, leaving kiwi protection volunteers overjoyed.

"It's marvellous news and it's been a long time coming," said Phil Wells, chair of the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust.

"The [parent] birds were released in the forest in 2007 and have laid 35 eggs but until now they've all been infertile."

The 50 to 60-day-old egg, from the forest's only breeding pair of North Island brown kiwi Whetu and Maui, was uplifted from the nest on April 13 and checked by volunteer kiwi monitors Dave Edwards and Nigel Veale to see whether it was fertile or not.

"They candle it, where they put a very strong torch under it, almost like a dodgy X-ray and from that you can see if it's viable or not ...

and as you can imagine after 34 dud eggs they were shocked," Mr Wells said.

Kiwi eggs hatch about 70-80 days after being laid.

The egg was packed into a special container and transported to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua to be incubated.

Last Friday night, staff heard a clicking sound, which indicated the kiwi was beginning to break out of its shell, Mr Wells said. It took about five days for the kiwi to hatch at 8.30pm on May 1. It weighed 335g.

Mr Wells said it was named Pistachio because "it was a reasonably tough nut to crack".

He said the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust would like to acknowledge all of the work of supporters and volunteers, both present and past.

"Our patience has finally been rewarded [and] we hope that this represents the turning point in our kiwi project."

In the 1980s, up to 50 kiwi were recorded calling in Otanewainuku forest but numbers dropped to only five by 2000.

Mr Wells said eight juvenile kiwi were being held at Cape Kidnappers and were due to be released in Otanewainuku forest some time this year. A number of other adult kiwi could be moved to the forest this year too, he said.

The Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust was set up in 2002 with the vision of re-establishing a viable population of North Island brown kiwi and volunteers had succeeded in reducing pests and predators in the forest to very low levels.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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