Image above: Kiwis for kiwi trustee Ruud Kleinpaste with me!
It’s been a real honour to share with you the process us kiwi chicks go through at Kiwi Encounter. I hope you’ve all learned something. My last chapter is all about the next step we take in our journey to adulthood – which, as it happens, I am writing from my new home!
After a few weeks post-egg, kiwi chicks have one of two options at Kiwi Encounter. 1) We are moved to a predator-free outdoor enclosure here at Rainbow Springs or 2) we go to a new location called a kiwi crèche, somewhere in a predator-free area where we can safely grow to our stoat-proof weight of 1kg.
Most of us take option two because there’s a lack of space at the Encounter, and it’s great for us to be back in the wild – or a safe version of it. Being a little bit different already (with my rare white feathers) it’s fitting that I was to get option two, but with a twist.
Friday 27 October was moving day for me. I was officially 29 days old and weighing 432g. I was packed into my travelling box and alongside kiwi keeper, Emma Bean, transported to the beautiful Motutapu Island!
I will live here in the predator-free kiwi crèche for many years, where I will be part of an exciting new project by ‘Kiwis for kiwi’ to grow kiwi numbers and reverse our population decline. It’s a pretty important job for a young chick like me.
I arrived on the island with two other chicks from Moehau Environment Group. The three of us will join other kiwi here to form a ‘kiwi kohanga’ or breeding programme. Once we safely grow and begin reproducing, our offspring will be taken to new predator-free areas to start new populations. Some may even go back to our original homes where they can build and flourish those populations with new genes.
The humans tell me they are taking kiwi production to a whole new level and increasing the ‘supply chain’ of kiwi, with the ultimate goal to reverse our population decline.
Did you know the national kiwi population is estimated to be declining at a rate of 2 percent per year? The good news is that kiwi numbers are growing in areas where work is being done to manage their habitats, and thanks to hatcheries like Kiwi Encounter. Without this work, I may not even exist!
We held a small ceremony when I got to the island, and I had my photo taken with some important people before being released into the crèche.
It’s safe to say I’m loving my new life. I can forage for food and have been enjoying a larger array of bugs and treats at dinner. Knowing there are no stoats or other predators around means I can sleep and forage in peace. One day soon, when I’m ready, I will find a mate and we will create new kiwi chicks. Who knows, they may even get to spend time at Kiwi Encounter like me!
I am happy, and I am free. Thank you for listening friends!
From me and all my new mates at Motutapu Island, farewell!
Bloomers (Rongomai ahua)