It was a special day for kiwi conservationists as year-old Ali was released back into the wild.

Ali was nursed back to health as part of Operation Nest Egg, after losing a significant amount of weight in the Warrenheip Bush, near Cambridge.

"Ali had some antibiotics about three or four weeks ago," said Emma Bean.

"We've managed to get the weight back on him again and he's now happy to go back where he was in Warrenheip, before going to Otanewainuku when he is ready to find a girlfriend."

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Bean has spent time caring for Ali at Rotorua's Rainbow Springs. She describes the bird as "endlessly inquisitive".

"While we want to make sure the kiwi are not imprinted in any way by us humans, he certainly wants to know what we are doing when we are in the room with him."

The team, which doubles as the National Kiwi Trust, relies heavily on sponsorship and the generous support of Ngāi Tahu.

"They've put in the tune of $4-5 million dollars over the years.

"That basically enables us to make sure the eggs from all over the North Island are able to be incubated and released at a safe-weight of a kilo, to smaller communities that wouldn't be able to afford the true cost of what it takes to raise a kiwi chick."

Members of the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust are using the Warrenheip Bush, as a pest-controlled creche for younger kiwi.

Here, they will keep an eye on Ali's growth, before releasing him into the vast forest of Otanewainuku.

"We have 16 kiwi in the forest at the moment, however we would like to see that grow, so as to have a genetically stable population of kiwi," says Dave Brown of Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust.

And with a transmitter fitted to keep an eye on his movements, Ali's progress will be closely monitored.

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