Northland's endangered kiwi will get a helping hand to survive with a predator-controlled habitat bridge between the Kaipara Harbour and the Pacific.
The Government is giving $8.5 million to create a 54,000-hectare predator-controlled bridge between the Kaipara Harbour and the Pacific as part of a $19.7 million kiwi conservation fund announced on Friday.
Jobs for Nature funding, as part of the Government's Covid-19 response and recovery package, will see $19.7m spread across kiwi conservation activities like increased predator control and Operation Nest Egg.
Charitable trust Kiwis for Kiwi will manage the distribution of funds, which will create up to 100 new jobs.
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said the time is right to accelerate and scale-up community and hapū/iwi kiwi restoration projects and create more predator-free land for kiwi.
"Only when large tracts of land are predator free will we see kiwi numbers for each species of kiwi go from 2 per cent decline per year to the Kiwi Recovery Plan's goal of a 2 per cent increase per year,'' Sage said.
"We also know that for long-term kiwi restoration and to reach New Zealand's Predator Free 2050 goal, we need to work in partnership with private landowners."
The Forest Bridge Trust's habitat restoration project is one of many community groups that will benefit from this investment.
"Building on the work of local communities and private landowners such as iwi and farmers, The Forest Bridge Trust will use new funding of $8.5m to create a 54,000-hectare predator-controlled bridge between the Kaipara Harbour and the Pacific, where kiwi can live without fear of predators," Sage said.
"Funding from Jobs for Nature will help to speed up the work that The Forest Bridge Trust is doing and create at least 40 new jobs at the peak of the project to support it."
Kiwis for kiwi executive director Michelle Impey said the organisation is proud to be entrusted with the funding, which will enable kiwi conservation efforts all over the country to achieve more, and faster.
Before colonisation, New Zealand was home to millions of kiwi. Today, there are around 70,000. Where predators are being managed, kiwi populations are growing. But the gains do not yet offset the losses, and despite efforts, kiwi numbers are still declining at 2 per cent annually – around 27 a week.
Impey said this funding injection will help kiwi conservation groups get ahead of that decline.
"The kiwi is genuinely running out of time – there's no beating around the bush here. This funding enables our teams to get ahead of the decline by restoring more native habitat, making more of that habitat safe from predators, working with dog owners to keep kiwi safe from their canine family members, and breeding more kiwi to release back into predator-managed habitats."
The Forest Bridge Trust executive director Tracy Tristram said the funding will enable their team to accelerate their conservation efforts significantly.
The new kiwi conservation funding covers five years and at its peak is likely to create up to 100 new jobs for community and iwi conservation projects including field operation, project management and administrative roles.