Partnership with DOC | Volunteers | Pest control | Kiwi translocation | Kokako translocation | Project ONE | Kiwi listening surveys | Education | Fundraising
Partnership with DOC
The Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust is a community based conservation Trust formed in 2002 by Te Puke Forest and Bird and other members of the community concerned at the decline of North Island brown kiwi in the Otanewainuku forest.
The Trust operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Conservation (DOC) who administers the land and provides technical advice and guidance on pest control and translocation of birds.
The Trust has a three-tiered volunteer structure: Board of Trustees, Operations (Ops) Committee and Fundraising Committee, and over 100 volunteers. Trustees meet every two months, holding the Trust’s vision and developing strategies. Our Fundraising Committee works to source funds to achieve our vision. The Ops Committee meets monthly and oversees the day to day running of the Trust.
Everyone involved is a volunteer. We work to protect kiwi and other fauna and flora of the forest. Activities range from the more physically demanding, such as maintaining a trap line through the bush and coming to workdays, to quieter pursuits such as guiding, fundraising, kiwi listening, helping with mail outs, sausage sizzles or simply sponsoring us. More on becoming a volunteer
We have many introduced predators in our bush including rats, stoats, possums, ferrets, feral cats and dogs. Predator control at Otanewainuku Forest is a mix of trapping mustelids (stoats, ferrets and weasels) and feral cats, goat culling, and an annual bait station operation to reduce numbers of rats and possums just before the bird breeding season in late winter.
Volunteers maintain the stoat trap lines (300 x 150m grid) and bait stations (150 x 75m grid) that cover 935 hectares of forest. Total forest area is 1200 hectares. Stoat traps are baited with salted rabbit meat alternated with raw hens eggs, and checked once a fortnight in the period 1 December - 31 March and once a month the rest of the year. The bait station operation starts in August and finishes in October to reduce pest numbers and give the best chance of our birds breeding in the forest.
While the kiwi and kokako are our main focus for predator control, all the other birds benefit too, along with bats, lizards and invertebrates. The flora also gains because fertile leaf litter, fruit and seeds are able to complete their vital life-cycle.
Translocation: moving birds from one forest area to another.
It is important to preserve the genetic purity by only moving birds within their taxa range. Otanewainuku belongs to the eastern North Island Brown Kiwi taxa area which includes East Coast, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay.
Local Tangata Whenua, Ngati Whare from Whirinaki, DOC and OKT Trustees met together to discuss translocating kiwi chicks from Whirinaki Forest to Otanewainuku. We share the costs of recovering and raising chicks from Whirinaki Forest. Half the chicks will be released into Otanewainuku and the other half returned to the Whirinaki Forest. A win-win partnership for kiwi.
Kiwi chick rearing with Project ONE
(Operation Nest Egg)
During the kiwi breeding season, June - February, the Trust’s experts work with DOC staff to maximise the chances of chick survival. Fertilised kiwi eggs are taken from the wild to a specialised incubation facility (Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua).
Unlike any other bird species, the kiwi chick hatches fully feathered. After a week it follows its father around outside, learning how to forage. The father protects it around the nest burrow, but if it strays it is vulnerable. At around three weeks the adult moves away and the chick continues to use the burrow as a base, getting further afield. It is very vulnerable to predators at this stage.
At Kiwi Encounter the chicks remain in a controlled environment for five to six months to become big enough (at least 1kg) to defend themselves against most predators once they are released.
In order to obtain kiwi eggs, we need to know where their burrows are, and how many days the eggs have been incubated. Volunteers use radio tracking equipment to monitor our kiwi, most of which carry miniature radio transmitters. Sometimes specially trained and muzzled kiwi-tracking dogs are used to sniff out new birds.
Kiwi listening surveys
Between April and June, volunteers conduct kiwi listening surveys over 20 sites to estimate the numbers of mature kiwi within the Otanewainuku forest. Male and female kiwi calls are quite different and are best heard during the lead up to the breeding season.
Juvenile kiwi call when they are about 12 months old, but they take a few months to develop their full song. They won't call regularly until they have established a territory. This makes it hard to estimate numbers until they are fully grown adults. New kiwi located using listening surveys are tracked down using certified, muzzled kiwi dogs.
We introduced kokako to the forest from two other Bay of Plenty forests, Kaharoa and Rotoehu. This distinctive bird originally frequented the forest but the small remnant population was removed in the mid eighties to the safety of Little Barrier Island. Kokako complement kiwi and other native bird life in the forest. Trust volunteers and DOC staff worked together to carry out this translocation. Recordings of kokako birdsong were played through speakers to anchor the birds in their new location. Kokako Report
The pristine Otanewainuku forest is loved by the residents of Tauranga and Te Puke as a special place for children and adults to visit, get some exercise and learn about the flora, fauna and history of the area. Our volunteers spend time acting as guides for visitors, especially school parties. Special favourites of children are the tame toutouwai (North Island robin), which have become common once more due to our successful pest control.
The creation of an education centre at Otanewainuku may be a future Trust objective.
Although most of the work of the Trust is carried out by unpaid volunteers, pest control and kiwi management require ongoing funding. The Trust is continually raising funds from individual donors, corporate sponsors and like-minded community organisations.
You can become a member, sponsor a hectare, make a donation, be a corporate sponsor, make a bequest in your will, or get your local school or community group involved.
We sell caps, beanies and blank greeting cards. Perfect as gifts or for yourself.
Huge thanks to our many hundreds of volunteers who have helped out over the years.
Together we make a difference!