It's not every day you get the opportunity to touch a one-legged kiwi and feed it worms.
But that's exactly what a group of students from Maunu School got to do yesterday.
Sparky the kiwi, who lost a leg when he got trapped in a gin trap in 2002, visited the Whangārei school to promote Save Kiwi Month - a national fundraising campaign held during October led by Kiwis for Kiwi.
Abi Monteith, Department of Conservation spokeswoman, said the children who met Sparky yesterday were involved with the kiwi release in Pukenui Forest in March.
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"They already knew the back stuff but they hadn't been able see and get up close with a kiwi, and see them eating worms, which is how we really want to inspire kids to make the connection with conservation. The more you can see it and touch it and feel it - the more inspired you will be to protect it, that's something that they won't forget," she said.
There were smiles all around when Robert Webb, from Whangārei Bird Recovery Centre - where Sparky lives, put Sparky on the ground and he started hopping around to meet the children.
Honor Hood, 6, was one of the lucky students who got to pat him.
"It was cool," she said "he was soft."
Monteith said it's quite common for kids who meet Sparky to watch him hop around, but the Maunu School students quickly worked out there were lots of worms around - and Sparky can eat up to 200 worms a day.
"They were immediately going off and finding the worms. Their teacher was saying some of these kids are kids who don't like getting their hands even slightly dirty and they were digging around the mud and putting the worms in front of Sparky and loving being part of that for him. I couldn't believe how many he ate."
For more information on how you can protect kiwi visit www.kiwisforkiwi.org.