The Trustees are committed to protecting Kiwi and their natural habitat. The main focus of the project is the biodiversity rich Puhikoko Reserve (546 ha), which is home to kiwi, kereru, North Island Robin and many other native bird species. For over ten years, the Trust has invested in environmental restoration. This includes pest management and active Kiwi management to ensure a sustainable population for generations to come.
The Trust is supported by a range of project partners including; Nga Whenua Rahui, Rayonier Matariki Forests, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Kiwis for Kiwi Trust. A kawanata is in place over Puhikoko Reserve, and intensive predator trapping and poisoning is undertaken to control mustelids, rats, cats and possums. No hunting is allowed in Puhikoko Reserve.
Regular kiwi aversion training is also held with the local Omataroa Hunting Club. This ensures that if hunting dogs do come across a kiwi in the pine forest, they will have an aversion to it and therefore not attack. Kaitiaki work is also undertaken with forestry contractors to prevent harm to kiwi during forestry operations.
The objective of the project is to protect the kiwi population and the wider biodiversity values of the forest, while also helping our people reconnect to the whenua and develop their skills as kaitiaki. Ian Tarei leads the work on the ground, and has had a strong interest in engaging whanau in kiwi conservation from a young age. Local kohanga reo are regular attendees at kiwi blessings, and each year a new group of Texas Rangers (Year 8 students from Te Kura o Te Teko) are taught kaitiakitanga and kiwi protection work as well as participating in kiwi releases and health checks.
Wild juvenile kiwi can been found in the area, highlighting the benefits of our pest animal control and advocacy work. Each year approximately 5 chicks are removed and sent to Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua. They are returned to the reserve once they have reached a safe weight. This has helped reinvigorate the resident kiwi population with young birds. Kiwi chicks have also been gifted to other local kiwi projects to help ensure a robust gene pool in now isolated populations.
Our long-term aim is to extend kiwi protection over the entire Omataroa area and we eventually hope to create a safe corridor between Omataroa and Te Urewera. This will help ensure kiwi genetic diversification as our Kiwi population increases. Currently Rayonier Matariki Forests funds a large buffer of trap lines in the pine forest around Puhikoko Reserve. Kiwi call count monitoring is also planned over a wide area to help direct the future expansion of the project.
How can you help?
There are a few things you can do that can help our kiwi such as:
- Don't release unwanted pets into the bush. These days the biggest killers of Omataroa Kiwi are wild cats and roaming dogs.
- Always ensure you get a permit before entering the Forest. This will ensure you are aware of your obligations when you are hunting or collecting firewood.
- If you are in the forest and see a kiwi, let us know where and when as soon as possible. If it looks injured, please ring us on 07 929 5692 or contact Ian Tarei.
- If you lose your dogs in the Forest, let the Omataroa Hunting Club know immediately.