Six kiwis to be released in Northland will be named after the six youngest people killed in the Christchurch terrorist attacks.
A dozen kiwi will be released into Whangārei's Pukenui Western Hills Forest on Saturday after the success of the first kiwi release in the forest in March last year, when 12 kiwi were left to their own devices and adapted well to their new surrounds, so well two baby kiwi have successfully hatched since.
Fifty people were killed and almost 50 injured in the March 15 Christchurch terror attacks at mosques in Christchurch during Friday Prayer.
The massacre began at the Al Noor Mosque in the suburb of Riccarton at 1.40pm and continued at the Linwood Islamic Centre at about 1.55pm.
Pukenui Western Hills Forest Trust member Richard Shepherd said hapu Ngati Kahu o Torongare in conjunction with Ngati Hine considered naming some of the birds was a way of remembering the youngest victims of one of New Zealand's darkest days.
"From my point of view there was a lot of sadness that everyone was feeling and we were thinking how we could acknowledge that. Naming six of the birds was a way to do that," Shepherd said.
Shepherd contacted Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha, who fronted the police liaison team with the Muslim community in the days after the attack, and had the request to name the kiwi approved by the Muslim community leaders.
"A lot of people and many Northland people are still feeling the pain and they will for a long time to come. By naming the kiwi we are saying the spirit of these young people will always be remembered."
The six youngest victims were Mucaad Adan Ibrahim, aged 3, Sayyad Milne, 14, Muhammad Haziq Tarmizi, 17, Hamza Khaled Mustafa, 16, Talha Naeem Rashid, 21, and Tariq Rasheed Omar, 25.
A member of the Northland Muslim community will speak before the birds are released on Saturday.
The Department of Conservation gave its backing for a series of releases of about 40 birds altogether over three years. It came after a decade of dealing to animal and plant pests in the rugged bush fringing Whangārei's inner suburbs and CBD, covering an area of about 3500ha.
Trust chairwoman Tanya Cook said the release of the next 12 birds cemented the good work being done.
"It's really exciting and the success we have had shows the hard work everyone has done is really paying off and these kiwi are benefiting."
She credited rangers Bevan Cramp and Ben Lovell with doing an exceptional job, tramping through the forest tracking the first 12 birds released.
Part of the success was also owed to help from the community with trapping and other work in the forest.
Cramp was busy organising the logistics of the release which included catching 12 suitable kiwi on the Hauraki Gulf kiwi-creche island of Motuora.
A team of 11 would go to the island this afternoon and during the night would capture suitable birds weighing in at close to 1.5kg and a mix of male and female. The bigger they were, the closer they were to breeding.
They would be transferred north on Saturday morning. An opportunity to see the kiwi up close and get photos at 1pm would follow the powhiri and speeches at Hurupaki School, starting at midday.
The birds will have trackers attached to them that will allow rangers to monitor their movements in the forest over the next 6 to 12 months.
The trust reminds the public that dogs are prohibited from Pukenui Forest, Whau Valley Dam catchment and Coronation Reserve at all times.