Forestry crews working on Pamu Northland blocks have discovered 23 kiwi in just over a year and earnest efforts are being made by the crews to protect the national icon.
Forrester Logging Ltd has been contracted by PF Olsen and is working on Kapiro Station, north of Waipapa in Kerikeri.
The crews have been working alongside Steve McManus, a contractor with a kiwi dog who do a survey of the area where work will commence. The pair find kiwi, then tag them with a radio transponder. The transponders track the birds so crews know where they are. Eleven kiwi have been located and are being tracked from this block.
"Landcorp are very interested in the kiwi being found on their farms and are invested in looking after them," McManus said.
Harvest Manager for PF Olsen, Craig Treloar said that every morning crews wait for McManus to complete a kiwi location and monitoring check, if any birds are in harm's way, they are moved by McManus - a certified handler.
"Our crew starts at 7-7.30am, usually they're up and going at 6.30am but we've delayed their start because the birds are still moving around until it becomes daylight, then they settle," Treloar said.
In March 2017, on a farm west of Kaikohe, 12 kiwi were located and tracked.
Treloar said it has been a very pleasant surprise to discover so many kiwi in the area, he had been told that there wasn't any where they would be working. Protecting New Zealand's national icon doesn't come cheaply though.
"When we stand the crew down we have to pay a rate to keep the crew going, the transponders themselves are $350 each and they only last about three or four months then the batteries go flat," Treloar said.
"It's quite a costly affair, so having 10 birds tagged, we've got about $3500 invested in those birds just to tag them and that's without the time and cost of that which is probably around $5000 more."
Last week, as harvesting was progressing, two crew members saw an untagged kiwi in harm's way and stopped the logging. McManus was then contacted and moved it to safety.
Treloar said Landcorp have been supportive of the programme.
McManus said one of the reasons there may be such high numbers of kiwi being found on Landcorp farms is because of the stance they take on dogs.
"They don't tolerate having dogs or they end up with dead sheep, and dogs are one of the biggest threats to kiwi - so without the dogs the kiwi are just free to get on with what they do," he said.