Precious white kiwi 'Manukura' dies

By Te Ao - Māori News
Photo Credit / Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre (Facebook)

Manukura, the first-ever pure white kiwi hatched into captivity anywhere in the world, has died.  The nine-and-a-half-year-old female kiwi died on Sunday.

Hatched on 1 May 2011, she was given the name Manukura by Rangitāne o Wairarapa.

"Rangitāne kaumātua Mike Kawana was there to do karakia over her and gave her the name Manukura when she was born, so it was appropriate and truly special that his brother Rangitāne kaumātua Manu Kawana was there to offer karakia and words of comfort at her passing," Emily Court, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre GM, said in a statement.

On learning of Manukura's passing, Mike Kawana said Rangitāne were saddened by the news.

“Taiahaha! ka rere te kohu ki runga I a Pūkaha maunga taiahaha! Kei te taonga Manukura hoki wairua atu ki Hauturu ki roto I ngā pūrakau. o Ngāti Manuhiri, E tangi ana a Rangitāne, moe mai rā e te taonga manu moe mai rā.

“Rangitane are saddened at the news of Manukura’s passing, Rangitāne have always believed she was a precious taonga and were privileged to have played a small role in her life, she has had a profound effect on so many people's lives over the years that we are sure everyone joins us in our grief.” 

The North Island Brown Kiwi should have been coloured brown but was instead born with white feathers due to an extremely rare genetic trait carried by both parents. Pūkaha staff at the time had no idea of her colouring until she hatched.

Her arrival was hailed as a huge blessing by Māori and local iwi Rangitāne o Wairarapa who saw her as a unifying symbol and a signal to help guide their future relationship with Pūkaha, Court said. 

Rangers caring for Manukura noticed she was not eating and losing weight in early December 2020. This resulted in her being taken to Wildbase Hospital, a specialist wild animal veterinary practice at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Kia ora everyone! You may have noticed I've been a bit quiet lately, well that's because I have been back to the vets...

Posted by Manukura Little White Kiwi on Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Wildbase vets operated to remove an infertile egg that had become stuck and unable to be passed naturally. More surgery was then required to remove her oviduct and most of her left ovary.

The surgeries went well but were not enough to save the ailing kiwi whose health continued to deteriorate in the weeks following the operation. Manukura passed away peacefully at 12.50pm on 27 December 2020 with rangers and veterinary staff present.

She is survived by her younger brother Mapuna, who is currently part of Pūkaha’s captive breeding programme.