The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust has returned its 100th kiwi chick to the inland Hawke's Bay forest from where its egg was taken.
The male bird, named Bocky after well-known local bushman Allan Bockman, was incubated at Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua and reared in a predator-free area at Cape Sanctuary.
The Maungataniwha Kiwi Project is part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg and has made a name for itself as one of the most prolific and successful kiwi conservation initiatives in the country. Since its inception in 2006 it has harvested 300 eggs and seen 163 chicks released back into the wild.
This 54 per cent survival rate contrasts starkly with the 5 per cent chance that kiwi have of making it to adulthood if their eggs are left in the bush unprotected against predators.
Population modelling suggests about 200 kiwi would need to be released back into Maungataniwha to make the population there secure for the next 30 years.
Eggs are taken from the trust's property in the Maungataniwha Native Forest adjacent to Te Urewera National Park and sent to Kiwi Encounter for incubation. The resulting chicks are then reared at the Cape Sanctuary until they are large enough to defend themselves against predators, before being returned to the wild at Maungataniwha.
In the early stages of the project some of the Maungataniwha chicks remained at the Cape Sanctuary to help form a breeding population there.
Bocky is the project's second notable hundred. In February 2012 Trust patron Rachel Hunter released Takamoana, the 100th chick reared by the project as a whole.
The bird was among a group of five kiwi brought back to Maungataniwha from Cape Sanctuary last month .
The trust expected to send at least 18 eggs to Kiwi Encounter for incubation this season. Eight of the male kiwi it tracks are nesting at the moment and the first egg-lifts of the season took place this week, yielding two viable eggs.
In addition to the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project the Trust runs a series of native flora and fauna regeneration projects. These include a drive to increase the wild-grown population of kakabeak, an extremely rare shrub, and the re-establishment of native plants and forest on 4000 hectares currently, or until recently, under pine.