By Andr? Hueber
The discovery of a freshly killed kiwi has cast a shadow over celebrations for a newly blessed kauri.
A ceremony was held near Tutukaka on June 29 to name and bless Tane Moana, which has a girth of 11.6m and is believed to be more than 1000-years-old.
Within a week, however, a group of trampers were devastated to find a dead kiwi directly underneath Tane Moana.
Annemarie Florian was tramping to the kauri with friends on Friday morning and said the mood changed when they came across the little feathered corpse.
"As we got to Tane Moana on the gravel track we found a kiwi lying on the side of the road. He was still warm and in very good condition ... he didn't have a mark on him."
The lack of bite marks suggested the kiwi had been hit by a vehicle, Ms Florian said.
"Our Friday walk is usually full of bubbly talk and nice chatter in the bush. Finding the dead kiwi put a real dampener on our mood. We were saddened to find such a magnificent specimen dead. He was a beautiful young kiwi."
Department of Conservation kiwi ranger Emma Craig said the most likely thing that could kill a 1.4kg kiwi was a dog or a vehicle.
As it had no external injuries it had probably been killed by a quad bike or other vehicle using the track, Ms Craig said.
"His body was very intact, but one of his hips was damaged. There were was also evidence of some internal haemorrhaging."
The kiwi had not experienced de-feather in shock, which usually happened in a dog attack.
Vehicles were not allowed on the track unless they had approval from forestry company Rayonier, Ms Craig said. "It's not likely someone went on a joyride. The gate is locked. Only service and trapping vehicles enter the area from time to time."
In the past five years more than 100 dead kiwi had been found in the Whangarei area alone.
Ms Craig said the latest death was a reminder for drivers to be extra vigilant around kiwi areas, especially at night.
"Dogs are the main culprits. If you live in or near a kiwi zone make sure all dogs on your land are under control and not allowed to wander day or night."
The bird will be stuffed and used as an educational tool by DOC staff training dogs to avoid kiwi.