There's a little group of conservation-minded landowners inland from Waverley who want to protect North Island brown kiwi.

One of them is Whanganui man Shaun Walton. A kiwi was released on his 32-hectare bush block in Omahina Rd last week.

Mr Walton has owned the land for 10 years and maintains 24 Taranaki Kiwi Trust traps to keep it free of predators. Mostly he catches rats and hedgehogs, but he got two stoats - the main kiwi killers - recently.

He also shoots and traps possums in the "vibrant, healthy" bush there. Taranaki Kiwi Trust members have collected kiwi eggs on his property and heard three male and two female kiwi calling that night.

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The eggs were hatched in captivity and when the chicks were old enough to fight off predators they were released into sanctuaries. In return Mr Walton got a young kiwi to release on his property. It's not from his area, and will widen the local gene pool.

Mr Walton has been working in Whanganui for the last year. He has also worked a lot overseas, but said he always spent time at his bush block when he was in New Zealand.

The log cabin there, Mt Hiwi Lodge, is 20 years old and sometimes available for rent.

It's also used by his conservation-minded neighbours, members of the Mt Hiwi Charitable Trust.

Secretary Richard Lucy said the group of six to 12 owned 400ha of forest with high conservation values at the head of the Moumahaki Stream and lakes in Omahina Rd. Members bought it in 2001, from political hopeful Terry Heffernan.

He wanted them to carry out his conservation goals, and progressively reduced the initial price of $79,000. The Nature Heritage Fund finished the payment, putting in about $50,000.

The land is "vicious country", very steep, and some of it has never been logged. It has kiwi, and also short- and long-tailed native bats.

The trust members were initially from Taranaki, but most now live elsewhere. Mr Lucy said they tried to get to Mt Hiwi every month or two to trap predators, and they also wanted to fence stock out of the land. They encourage hunting, to keep goat and possum numbers down.

They want to join with other nearby landowners to keep 1000ha predator-free, making a viable breeding area for kiwi.

The trust land is open to the public, but trust members need to know when people are there, in case hunters are also working. Mr Lucy can be contacted on 027 249 4255.