Department of Conservation staff are trying to work out how an endangered South Island kiwi came to be found dead in a North Island town.

The female kiwi's body was found in a hay barn by a farmer in Otaki - with wounds that suggest she was attacked by a dog.

DOC Technical Advisor Rogan Colbourne says the bird is either a Stewart Island or Fiordland Tokoeka.

He says it appears someone was keeping the kiwi as a pet as it was in good condition.

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Mr Colbourne says it's irresponsible for people to take protected species from the wild and the kiwi should've been in the wild contributing to the breeding population.

DNA tests are to be carried out to determine the bird's exact origins.