4 May 2018

Kiwi Hatchery Celebrating Record Season

by Emma Mulder

As the 2017/18 season ends, Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter is reporting a 98.4% hatch success rate – almost four percent higher than its average over the last decade.

Husbandry Manager, Emma Bean, says the result is unprecedented for Kiwi Encounter and a win for kiwi conservation across the country. “I’m excited to say we’ve had an exceptional year here – the only time we’ve had a better hatch rate than this is when we hatched 17 chicks out of 17 eggs in 2000-2001 season when things weren’t quite on the grand scale as they are today.” 

This year the hatchery hatched 124 chicks during the season from 126 viable eggs. “For the last 10 years we’ve averaged a 94.9% hatch success, so hatching at 98.4% is a significant increase.” Emma says the hatchery has also had a few wild chicks brought from field workers, taking the total of chicks released for the season to 133 – two more than in 2016/17. “This has been an incredible year and a great increase on last year, however the important accomplishment is that we have consistently achieved a hatch success of over 93% for the last 10 years, hatching 1197 chicks in those 10 seasons.” This year’s results reflect the skills, expertise and passion of the kiwi team, says Emma. “Our team has more than 100 years’ experience in kiwi incubation and husbandry. “This endorses us as a centre of excellence and enables us to provide training for other kiwi practitioners – such as hosting the annual Kiwi Egg Candling Course.” 

Emma is also the country’s Zoo and Aquarium Association Captive Kiwi Husbandry Advisor and provides crucial advice to other kiwi facilities. “I’m incredibly proud of the team here, who are dedicated to leading kiwi conservation in best practice and kiwi husbandry expertise.” “Our wild kiwi populations are still declining every year – and if we don’t continue to work as hard as we are, we are in danger of losing our national bird,” says Emma. 

The season’s results are good news for Kiwis for Kiwi’s initiative to reverse the decline of North Island Brown Kiwi population. Kiwis for Kiwi Executive Director, Michelle Impey, says the success of Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter season reinforces the importance of having this skilled kiwi husbandry team and world-class facility to support the national kiwi recovery programme. "We're so proud to be working in partnership with Kiwi Encounter to bring our strategy to life.”

The Department of Conservation has also endorsed Kiwi Encounter for making a difference in the lives of kiwi. DOC Technical Advisor Ecology, Jess Scrimgeour, says “It has come as no surprise that Kiwi Encounter continues to improve on their own high standard and the release of 133 kiwi back in to the wild this season is a real boost to kiwi conservation”.

Highlights of the Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter 2017/18 Hatching Season:
• 133 healthy chicks raised and released
• 124 successful hatches
• An unprecedented 98.4% hatch success rate
• Creating and publishing the first blog series written from the perspective of a kiwi –
designed to educate the public on the life of a chick at the hatchery.
• Recording and publishing incredibly rare timelapse footage of two kiwi chicks hatching