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Northland Kiwi Discovery

Is it a pukeko? Is it a weka? No, it’s a pair of kiwi! Landcorp’s Mangatoa Forest in Northland isn’t known for its kiwi. In fact, Compartment 40 does not share a boundary with any native bush, it has a scarce sub-canopy and livestock are grazed regularly in the stand – not really great kiwi habitat. So imagine Wise on Wood Ltd operator’s surprise when two kiwi appeared in the area in which he was mechanically felling.

Thanks to prior training, and excellent kiwi protocols, Mark Lavakeiaho, the machine operator stopped felling immediately and notified the crew foreman, Nigel Harrison. Nigel in turn notified PF Olsen supervisor Henry Morris, who contacted the Department of Conservation. Luckily, Steve McManus, and his kiwi dog Flow, were available to come out to survey the area that day. Steve and Henry spoke to the operator, before scanning the area where the kiwi had been spotted.

While the kiwi were not immediately located, Flow did find their nest which contained an egg! Because of the proximity of the forestry machines, Steve removed the egg from the nest, to take it back to hatch and raise in a safe location until the chick reached the 1 kg weight that is deemed safe for re-release in the wild.

Flow locating a kiwi burrow. Source: Moor, B. (2016). Daily Grind: Finding kiwi a ‘privilege’.

Steve finished surveying the area that was due to be harvested that day, but no more kiwi or nests were found. He returned later that day with Flow to survey the rest of the compartment, managing to locate the original two kiwi seen by Mark. They had now set up residence down by the stream, and towards a small patch of native.

PF Olsen would like to extend their thanks to the crew of Wise on Wood Ltd for their quick thinking, and prompt actions, in recognising the risk their operation had to the kiwi and for notifying the appropriate personnel.

Left: The egg in its nest. Right: Steve with the egg. Photo credit: Henry Morris, PF Olsen.

Follow up: Unfortunately, Henry received news from Steve that the egg was dead, and disposed of by DOC staff. Steve and Flow will continue working with Henry to survey other forested areas that are due to be harvested in the near future. This information will also be used to create a location specific management plan for the kiwi in Mangatoa Forest.