Northland's wild kiwi stocks have been further enhanced with the latest release of four kiwi in bush north of Whangārei this week.

Four Northland brown kiwi – Ellis, Rimu, Judy and Kaha - were released on Tuesday evening by farmers leading the Tanekaha-Hukerenui Kiwi Community Project.

Farmer Judy Imeson was thrilled to have the four kiwi released on her property and she got to get up close with them beforehand.

"I've been part of the Tanekaha Community Pest Control Group for the past seven years. After kiwi were confirmed on the farm, I knew I had to do something to help them.

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"Carrying out pest control and looking after the kiwi has become part of our normal farm management – but I never thought our farm would become a place where kiwi would be released."

Farmer Judy Imeson with Ellis the kiwi before he was released onto her property this week. Photo / Malcolm Pullman
Farmer Judy Imeson with Ellis the kiwi before he was released onto her property this week. Photo / Malcolm Pullman

Imeson hosted a public kiwi release event on her farm on Tuesday to give people a chance to see wild Northland brown kiwi up close before being released into prepared burrows.

The four kiwi – three females and one male – entranced the crowd and acted as ambassadors as people learnt about the key threats to kiwi survival in Northland – pests like stoats that predate 95 per cent of kiwi chicks before they reach their first birthday in unmanaged areas, and inquisitive dogs who find their scent simply irresistible and have reduced the average lifespan of Northland kiwi from 60 to just 13 years old.

Todd Hamilton from Backyard Kiwi led the kiwi release emphasising two key factors to ensure kiwi numbers keep increasing in areas like Tanekaha.

"It's simple – trap the predators like stoats and ferrets, and tie up your dogs – don't let them wander. Northland kiwi sleep during the day in some unexpected places like pampas, tall grass, and among gorse. You just never know where a kiwi may be.''

The four kiwi were all graduates from the Matakohe-Limestone Island kiwi creche in Whangārei Harbour. Ellis – the only male kiwi to be released at the farm - had been on the island for seven and a half years. Most kiwi spend only a few years on the island, so Ellis had clearly eluded recapture for a bit longer than usual.

Ellis the kiwi. Photo / Malcolm Pullman
Ellis the kiwi. Photo / Malcolm Pullman

Despite being the oldest kiwi in the group by six years, Ellis at 1.7kg was dwarfed by the three young females who weighed in at around 2kg and still have some growing to do.

Adult Northland brown kiwi females are bigger than their male counterparts and can weigh more than 3kg fully grown. This is due to female kiwi producing one of the biggest eggs per body size of any bird in the world.

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Imeson is keen to keep the kiwi numbers growing on her farm and believes it's now a good time to extend the area, and involve more landowners.

Northland Regional councillor Joce Yeoman was on hand to see the kiwi released and said she was very pleased to see another Community Pest Control Agreement (CPCA) in place.

Kiwi Coast co-ordinator Ngaire Sullivan said the new Hukerenui CPCA sees yet another Northland community taking up the challenge to control predators and help their kiwi thrive.

To find out about the next kiwi release event being planned or how to start your own community kiwi care group contact Kiwi Coast co-ordinator Ngaire Sullivan at ngaire@kiwicoast.org.nz.