Two juvenile kiwi released in December on Mt Taranaki will be closely monitored to learn more about how kiwi are doing in Egmont National Park.

The two kiwi are the first of 10 being released by the Taranaki Kiwi Trust over the next few months. The trust will track the birds using transmitters for at least the first year of their release.

Taranaki Kiwi Trust chairwoman Sue Hardwick-Smith says trust members feel a real attachment to the kiwi they release.

"We follow the kiwi from when they are taken as eggs to be hatched in captivity, to their release, and name each one. Monitoring will allow us to know more about their survival, where they go, and whether the trapping network is working."


Taranaki Mounga director Jan Hania says the Taranaki Kiwi Trust is doing excellent work.

"We both want the same outcome - a large viable population of thriving kiwi on the mountain. This kiwi monitoring programme will give the trust a much better picture of kiwi behaviour and the information will be useful as Taranaki Mounga works to control and reduce predators in the national park," he says.

One of the birds is already well known. Rockstar shot to fame when it hatched in trust volunteer Kevin Stokes' car en-route from Uruti to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua. The second kiwi is from Waverley and called Popokotea (whitehead) as it was born with a bald patch which it still sports.

Both birds spent their first four months at Kiwi Encounter.

When they reached 1kg they were transferred to Taranaki's predator-free Rotokare Scenic Reserve. They were released onto the Mounga at eight months old.

The plan is to release and monitor at least eight more kiwi in the next few months. The monitoring programme is funded by Kiwis for Kiwi and Curious Minds with support from the Taranaki Electricity Trust.

Volunteers, including Sue Hardwick-Smith's husband Tim Hardwick-Smith and Jim Finer, have also offered to fly over the national park to track the kiwi.

Since its beginning in 2001 the Taranaki Kiwi Trust has released 73 kiwi. It also runs stoat trap lines on Mt Taranaki and works with local landowners to set predator traps on private land. "Stoats are the biggest threat to kiwi survival and environmental project Taranaki Mounga is working towards a predator free national park which will be fantastic for kiwi survival," says Sue.

Previously kiwi have been monitored by trust and DoC volunteers doing four yearly kiwi call counts, and this year doing walk through surveys at night listening for kiwi calls and by placing acoustic recorders at 101 sites.

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