The first kiwi chick in 50 years or more has hatched in the rugged Pukenui Forest on Whangārei city's western flank.

The happy event comes only seven months after the release in March of 12 young pioneer birds, and is a further indication of the successful relocation to the wilderness area within bird call of the city.

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The unnamed chick is the offspring of Chuckles, a male bird which - as kiwi blokes do - did the hard yards when it came to sitting on the egg until it hatched.

While Chuckles' chick is the first to hatch, other male birds are also incubating eggs in their sanctuary deep inside the forested hills.

Not even two weeks, the kiwi chick is fully feathered and able to forage for itself but it makes fine fodder for pests.
Not even two weeks, the kiwi chick is fully feathered and able to forage for itself but it makes fine fodder for pests.

The new chair of the Pukenui Western Hills Forest Trust, Tanya Cook, said rangers confirmed a week ago that Chuckles had hatched his healthy chick.

''It's really exciting. Two other birds are thought to be sitting on eggs too,'' Cook said.

''We can't be sure yet. Our standard operating procedure is not to disturb the bird while it is sitting or until the chick leaves the burrow.''

While the trust had been sitting on the news that eggs were due to hatch, word of a chick being hatched flew before it even happened.

One who was excited was well-known ''bug man'' Ruud Kleinpaste, who prematurely announced a chick's arrival - it was still in the egg - when he visited Onerahi's Dragonfly Springs Wetlands Sanctuary two weeks ago.

Appropriately, Kleinpaste was holding an education workshop where one topic was wildlife close to urban environments.

The as-yet gender neutral - or unknown - chick's name will be decided after meetings between the trust, its iwi partners and other stakeholders, Cook said.

That might not rule out a competition for school students or the wider community to come up with the name: ''We haven't yet had a chance to discuss that.''


Meanwhile, the success of the trust's kiwi programme depended on the goodwill of the community, she said.

While rangers and volunteers did pest control and other work, the most effective support people in the general community could offer was to keep their dogs out of the forest and cat locked up at night, she said.

''We can't stress enough how important dog control is.''

Even someone with a dog on a leash is breaking a council bylaw if they enter the forest.

Bevan Cramp said the trust was fairly confident the kiwi would breed in their first season but, because they were young birds, it expected some nests to fail.

''So far so good, however. We're off to an amazing start.''

Early in August, Cramp confirmed Chuckles was sitting on an egg. There were two in the clutch laid by the female partner, the smaller of the two being infertile. The newly hatched chick is from the second, larger egg.

Fellow male kiwi Waimarie had been sitting on an egg for a week or two earlier than Chuckles started but that egg didn't survive.

The lack of activity measured via a transmitter indicates Waimarie is back on parental duty. Incubation takes 11 weeks.

Since the release of the breeding-aged kiwi, which were raised on Motuora Island in the Hauraki Gulf, several have lost the transmitters which were to monitor their whereabouts and activities for the first 12 months.

It could be a few years before this season's chicks accompany the rasping shrieks of older birds heard by people living close to the new kiwi habitat. Kiwi only begin making night cries when they near breeding age.

However, they get sent out into the world at a young age. Parent birds never feed their young, meaning chicks are out foraging for themselves around a week after hatching.