The release of five kiwi at Kohukohunui is the latest success in a long project by mana whenua and the Auckland Council to restore the Hunua Ranges to its natural pest-free state. The iwi welcomed the council onto Wharekawa Marae in Kaiaua to mark the occasion which was the first in many more bird releases to come.
A forest which has been abuzz with the call of the kōkako now has that of the kiwi to fill out its choir.
Hauauru Rawiri, Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāti Whanaunga says, “The Auckland Council, Department of Conservation, the mana whenua tribes of the Hunua Ranges and other iwi with interests have been looking at ways to conserve this area.”
Taken from Kuaotunu in Coromandel to be rehoused in a 1500 hectare pest free area, the kiwi release is just the start of a long project to restore Kohukohunui (Hunua Ranges) to its natural state.
Phil Goff says, “We once had an area covered in indigenous forest, we once had birdlife that was so prolific that the morning birdsong could be heard all over the country.”
Rawiri says, “We used to have kiwi here, but then dogs, possums and other pests were introduced and it decimated the kiwi population here at the Hunua. We wanted to kill off the pests in order to bring back populations like the kiwi.
The Council and iwi plan to release a total of 40 kiwi into the forest over the next six years, which offers an exciting prospect for Ngāti Pāoa and Ngāt Whanaunga's next generation of caretakers.
“Our responsibility is to look after the environment, so it's been a major undertaking we as Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Pāoa and the home people of Wharekawa have made.
So that our grandchildren can see and foster and help conserve this precious species. It ties in with the philosophy that Māori are kaitiaki and will continue to be that moving forward,” says Rawiri.