Kiwi conservationists in Whangārei Heads received an early Christmas gift with the arrival of the first chick this breeding season.
Owhiwa Landcare was overjoyed about Kotahi (The First), who followed a bittersweet moment in March when the first kiwi chick in decades was discovered in the area but died shortly afterwards.
And the celebrations continued as Kotahi was soon joined by a sibling.
Kiwi Coast coordinator Ngaire Sullivan hoped other chicks would join the pair as years of intensive predator control and great dog control by locals allowed released kiwi to successfully breed.
Kotahi was hatched by kiwi dad 'Chookie' after 65 days of incubation in a commercial pine forest on Owhiwa Rd owned by Kerry Martin and his family.
Chookie - released by Backyard Kiwi in February this year - was extra special as he's the namesake of Martin's father, nicknamed Chook, who managed the family block for years.
Chookie is the first kiwi released in the Owhiwa area to nest successfully.
Before him, hopes were pinned on Teina, also released into the Martin pine forest.
He was the first kiwi in decades to nest in Owhiwa but who infamously incubated a rock for more than three months thinking it was an egg.
Chookie turned out to be pretty pleased with his release site as he opted to nest deep in a puriri tree log only 200m away.
Backyard Kiwi project manager Todd Hamilton has been tracking the kiwi's whereabouts, health, and activity levels since his release by using remote radio monitoring equipment that taps into a small transmitter on the kiwi's leg.
"Chookie's first two attempts at nesting failed, so we nervously waited as he settled into this round of incubation duty.
"We only let ourselves get excited as he neared the 60-night mark, knowing that if he was sitting on a viable egg it could hatch at any moment," he said.
Then finally on November 28, they got the news they'd hoped for – an egg had hatched.
It was a feeling soon repeated for Hamilton as Chookie continued to nest rather than forage for long hours to recover from the lengthy incubation period.
"... [he] has now hatched a second chick. Well done, Chookie," he said.
Kerry Martin said news of Kotahi's hatching was the best festive gift they could wish for.
"It has ended a difficult year in the most amazing way possible and we are just thrilled."
Fourteen years of conservation efforts by the Martin family, especially with extensive animal and plant pest control, felt rewarded by the new chicks.
"It had always been a goal of ours to do our bit to bring kiwi back to the area so it's great to see that start to happen."
He hoped it continued but felt reassured given the excellent work of local Landcare groups, Kiwi Coast, Backyard Kiwi, and local dog owners who he'd noticed all keep their canines leashed on walks.