A Hawke's Bay organisation is on a mission to rebuild kiwi numbers.

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust runs a breeding programme, where it lifts eggs from Maungataniwha Native Forest and rears the hatchlings until they are big enough to be released into the wild.

This year, 44 of the 59 Eastern North Island Brown Kiwi eggs lifted for Maungataniwha have hatched, meaning 44 birds are currently being reared for release.

This is a drastic difference to eggs left in the wild, which have a survival rate of only 5 per cent.


Spokesman for the Trust Peter Heath said it was a good result.

"It's a good year," he said. "Some years are up, some years are down, this one is sitting, sort of, right in the middle."

Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust conservation specialist Tamsin Ward-Smith said each stage to the chicks' life cycle was micro-managed.

"We certainly haven't got to the conveyor belt production of chicks yet and so each one is still micro-managed at every stage from egg to release.

"It truly is a privilege to send a healthy juvenile back into the wild. Getting them to that stage is a result of many people each doing their part."

The chicks are incubated at Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua, and then reared at Cape Sanctuary, near Napier.

The programme has been running for over a decade, and has been going from strength to strength.

In June, 2017, the trust released a special kiwi named Kevin into the forest.


Population modelling suggested 200 Kiwi were needed to make the population viable for 30 years, and Kevin was the 200th kiwi released into Maungataniwha.

However, despite the population being theoretically sustainable, Heath said the programme needed to continue.

"Just because the population is sustainable isn't to say we should stop lifting eggs - the birds are still endangered."

Most kiwi would be released over summer, although some may be released as early as November.

Only some of the chicks are released back to Maungataniwha, with others going to Cape Sanctuary, Otanewainuku, the Whirinaki, the Kaweka Ranges and into captive breeding programmes.

There are five species of kiwi in New Zealand, brown kiwi, great spotted kiwi/roroa, little spotted kiwi, rowi, tokoeka.

Brown kiwi has four genetically distinct forms, including the Eastern North Island Brown Kiwi, which is endemic to Hawke's Bay.