One decade of conservation work boiled has down to a single "hopeful moment" this month as a brown kiwi named Kevin became the 200th young adult bird to be released into the Maungataniwha Native Forest.
Kevin's release marked a turning point for kiwi conservation in Hawke's Bay as population modelling suggested around 200 kiwi were needed to ensure the species' viability in the forest for the next three decades.
Born in a captive breeding programme in Napier, Kevin is the newest forest resident released through the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust's Maungataniwha Kiwi Project based in inland Hawke's Bay.
Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust spokesman Peter Heath said Kevin's release was a moment to be treasured after 10 years of "hard flog" which is set to continue to ensure the kiwi species thrives in the forest.
"Three decades is a blink in time and while it's job done for now, it's not job done moving forward."
Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust chairman Simon Hall said work to "safeguard" the species' future in the Maungataniwha Native Forest for the next three decades would now be the focus of the trust's efforts.
"We can never say that any kiwi population is truly out of the woods but we have come an enormous way to get to the point where we can now say that the population at Maungataniwha is viable for the next three decades," he said.
Trapping links, regular predator counts and monitoring predator populations would be done as part of an ongoing effort to ensure kiwis like Kevin thrive in the Maungataniwha Native Forest, Mr Heath said.
"The important work now is the creation of a sanctuary; an area without predators where kiwis and other endangered species can live in a safe haven."
Considered an 'outsider', Kevin is thought to help diversify and strengthen the kiwi gene pool in the Maungataniwha Native Forest and it's hoped he will breed successfully with other kiwi in the forest.
Since 2006 and the end of March last year the trust had harvested 453 eggs and seen 237 young adults released back into the wild.
This 52.3 per cent success 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.
Mr Heath said with conservation efforts being so widespread and ongoing throughout New Zealand, it was important to celebrate small moments that marked success.
"It's worth celebrating these moments because it shows that there is progress.
"While the [kiwi] population can never be guaranteed it is really good for New Zealand to learn when that there are these little hopeful moments."