About 8500 kiwi across Northland's collectively-managed Kiwi Coast programme land are okay – for now – in New Zealand's Covid-19 lockdown.
That's according to Ngaire Sullivan, Kiwi Coast Trust coordinator.
"But I would start to get worried if the lockdown went on for longer than a month," Sullivan said.
The kiwi roam 160,000 hectares of collectively managed land stretching 300 kilometres from Mangawhai in the south to Dargaville in the west and northward to Te Kao, near Cape Reinga. Almost 150 groups and organisations work together on this land trapping pests and more in the community-led Kiwi Coast initiative that aims to boost their recovery and future.
Sullivan said the kiwi would be reasonably okay at the moment, partly due to the time of the year.
But any lockdown extension would put pressure on that status.
Twenty kiwi were fitted with transmitters and monitored monthly by listening to the sounds from those transmitters.
But that checking couldn't take place during the lockdown.
"We listen to find out where they are going, how much they're moving about, how they're going," Sullivan said.
"We can't do that at the moment and we're worried about that."
She said not being able to monitor the transmitters meant they wouldn't know whether a kiwi was threatened.
"There is, therefore, a possibility we could lose one of the birds," Sullivan said.
It was important to be able to track the kiwi again.
The collaborative Kiwi Coast initiative links almost 150 entities including community-led conservation projects, iwi and hapu, schools, government agencies, forestry companies, non-governmental organisations, local and regional government working together to restore native forests, help native wildlife thrive and boost Northland kiwi numbers.
It aims to support, enable and connect community-led kiwi recovery throughout Northland with the goal of creating New Zealand's first kiwi corridor. Projects on about 40,000 hectares of 25% of the land managed by the group are joined together.
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Sullivan said pest control work for possums, stoats, rats, weasels and feral cats was a huge part of collectively managing the kiwi coastland.
In the past six years, Kiwi Coast members have collectively disposed of almost 300,000 pests - including almost 125,000 possums, 10,000 stoats, weasels and ferrets, 120,000 rats, almost 4000 feral cats and about 9000 rabbits.
Sullivan said pest control couldn't happen at present across large tracts of the publicly owned land in the Kiwi Coast programme as its specialised trapping contractors were unable to drive to and work on this land during Covid-19 level 4 lockdown.
That included areas such as Bream Head, Pukenui, Warawara (Hokianga), Russell and Puketi.
"We have worked to look out for our three Kiwi Coast pest control contractors during lockdown," Sullivan said.
This meant keeping the contractors on the books and supporting them as people now confined to their homes after being used to working alone all day covering kilometres of pest trap lines in the bush.
Sullivan reassured Kiwi Coast private landowners pest control would continue to be done on their properties.
While level 4 controls were pending late last month Sullivan brought in extra traps, bait and bait stations for this Kiwi Coast group's pest control work including on possums, stoats and rats over the lockdown.
They were then able to proceed with possibly more pest control work than usual.
Sullivan said the timing of the Covid-19 level four lockdown critically worked in the birds' favour.
"If it had been December, with heaps of kiwi chicks around and the annual flush of stoat numbers, it would have been disastrous."
Autumn was a quieter time of year in the stoat life cycle.
"We're entering a time of year when there is lower than usual trap checking frequency for stoats," Sullivan said.
She said kiwi were starting to prepare for breeding and nesting. They were beginning to call at night searching for mates and eating more, too.
An annual kiwi listening event was scheduled for May and June. The purpose of the event was to record kiwi numbers which helped monitor the Kiwi Coast programme's success.
Those who had kiwi listening sites in their backyards would still be able to listen for the calls.
Sullivan said the absence of aspects of pest control for a month on Kiwi Coast land was to some degree manageable but not ideal.
One important upcoming pest control feature needed consideration.
A possum and rat or pest control blitz was typically done in the forest as the colder weather arrived.
Pest control is a key component of the Kiwi Coast programme along with dog control, education and community engagement.