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Kadine the Kiwi ‘birthday present’ a gift to the nation

Jul 22nd, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, News

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UNUSUAL PRESENT: Patty (left) and John watch as Nikki (above)and Melody take Kadine out of her box.

PATTY Kilpatrick thought finding a birthday present for husband John’s 50th would be hard – he wanted a kiwi.

Not to actually own one of New Zealand’s iconic birds, but to name and sponsor one.

She found the solution at Rimutaka Forest Park Trust, a non-profit charitable trust committed to protecting and restoring the hills of Rimutaka, Orongorongo and Turakirae areas.

“John is so hard to buy for, it was a relief to have him tell me this is what he wanted,” says Patty.

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KIWI MOTHER: Trust worker Melody McLaughlin with Kadine.

They talked to Melody McLaughlin, who works for the trust and knows kiwi well.

She has released  39 kiwi into the 22,000 hectares on the edges of Wainuiomata and involved with the trust for  kiwi for seven years.

The latest juvenile to be fitted with a small transmitter is Kadine, named by the Kilpatrick’s after their company, Kadine Stamps, in Bell Block, New Plymouth, and also an aged and special samoyd dog, who passed away.

The gathering in Wainuiomata is here to release Kadine into the wild, after hatching 4.5 months ago and reared at Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Sanctuary, north of Masterton.

She then went to Whanganui kiwi crèche, before it closed, and is now playing hard to get from her wooden box at Sunny Grove.

Wainuiomata kaumatua Sep Taitua blesses the young bird and a prayer is sung by members of the marae.

Care is taken to not let her escape: “They have a habit of bolting for the nearest hole, head first with their bottom sticking out – the ostrich approach,” says Melody.

When 1200 gram Kadine pops out and is held by Melody for everyone to see, she looks shy and timid, a bird who would rather not be the centre of attention.

“Males stomp and hiss at this time of the year because it’s mating time and can be stroppy with more handling,” Melody says.

Three things that will stress a kiwi are noise, being handled and temperature, so care is taken to minimise these.

Volunteer Nikki McArthur will walk the two-hour track journey to let her go, from a special carry bag after Kadine’s photo shoot.

Being nocturnal and winter having the longest feeding times, she will be hungry by evening and becoming restless to begin a new night of foraging.

The “fantastic opportunity” to sponsor a unique bird is what John loves about his birthday gift: “The chance to be involved with kiwi at all is what interested me. It’s very special.”

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What the trust does

The Rimutaka Forest Park Charitable Trust, formed in 1988, is responsible for the preservation and restoration of the natural and historic resources of the Rimutaka Forest Park valleys and environment.

It works with local community, tangata whenua and the Department of Conservation.

The trust’s only intervention is the trapping of predator’s in 2500 hectares of prime kiwi space, predominately stoats.

Its main objective is to have a sustainable population and to breed a “pure provenance”  bird.

The trust’s captive-bred kiwi currently share genetics with birds from Taranaki, Bay of Islands, Coromandel Little Barrier Island and Northland.

Kiwi pair for life and there have been stories of separated couples travelling kilometres to return to their mate.

Each bird or breeding couple roams a square kilometre area.

The female carries her egg for three weeks before laying it. She will eat three times more food and her egg will be as big as a moa’s when laid.

She will stand in water to reduce the load on her and will not eat for three days prior to laying. If there is one, a second egg will begin to grow inside her.

The male sits on the egg, if he is still around. The chick will stand as soon as hatched and feeds on the egg sac for a week.

In three weeks, the parents will kick the baby out of the nest if it has not left home already.

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is A journalist who loves wide open spaces and fresh air, passionate about the world we live in and keeping our natural world as pristine as we can while still living happily. Responsibility is the first step. Toiti te whenua.
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