Unique attraction in white kiwis

By Heather McCracken

The third white kiwi born at Pukaha Mt Bruce has been named Mapuna, a Maori word meaning "prized" or "precious". The little guy - or girl, it's too early to tell - follows bigger siblings Manukura and Mauriora as the latest star attraction at Pukaha.

I visited recently and was just in time to see Mapuna being fed by ranger Darren Page, and it was tough not to be enchanted by the little bundle of white feathers.

Manukura was not quite so cuddly on the day I saw her, barrelling around her enclosure, chasing her brown kiwi burrow-mate.

The white kiwis have undoubtedly been a boon for Pukaha, which now has a unique selling point that no other wildlife centre or kiwi attraction can claim.

It begs the question though - how many white kiwis is too many?

The catch-22 for Pukaha is that while it's working to build up the kiwi population, at the same time the birds' rarity is a big selling point, and one of the things driving people through the doors.

As more white kiwis are hatched some will no doubt be released, at least into the protected wild of the Mt Bruce reserve, and it would be great to have more kiwis, white and brown, living in the wild.

But it will be interesting to see whether the white kiwi phenomenon is shared with other wildlife centres or breeding programmes around the country, or whether the white birds, at least in captivity, continue to be a Wairarapa exclusive.

In any case, there's no question little Mapuna has star quality, and is well worth seeing, particularly while he or she is still cute and fluffy.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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