Rachel Hunter swaps TV for kiwi

SIMON DAY
Last updated 15:07 07/11/2012
Rachel Hunter

GOING BUSH: Rachel Hunter during her kiwi conservation mission with the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

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It's about passion, not fashion.

Make-up free, clad in old thermals and gumboots, Rachel Hunter was not afraid to get her hands dirty, as
she snuck into a kiwi nest in the middle of the night to lift an egg to ensure its safety.

The New Zealand's Got Talent judge, who is patron of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust that runs a kiwi conservation project, spent two days transporting Kiwi chicks around the North Island and lifting an egg from the Maungataniwha Forest to be incubated at the Kiwi Encounter at Rotorua.

"You have to try not to think about the parents," Hunter said.

But with a 95 per cent chance a predator would kill the young kiwi, Hunter said they were doing the right thing.

She had to trek through dense North Island native bush to the kiwi's burrow.

The father, monitored by radio transmitter, had left the nest to go hunting worms.

"It was this beautiful light blue egg. But it was quite small. We think Murphy (the father) might have a new partner."

Back at the hut, Hunter was able to examine the egg to reveal a healthy foetus ready to incubate at the
Rotorua facility.

"I could see the egg's air pocket and blood vessels, which meant it was healthy," Hunter said.

Hunter believes big businesses must get involved in conservation to help preserve New Zealand's native ecology. The kiwi was the perfect bird to get people interested, she said.

"It's our national bird - who wouldn't want to look after something that's near extinction to make sure that it lives? Overseas, the bird is very noticeable as being a New Zealand bird, it would be a shame for it not to survive."

Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust chairman Simon Hall said Hunter was a natural choice for patron and she has been actively involved.

"She was just so enthusiastic and passionate when I mentioned it to her, you don't get more kiwi than Rachel Hunter," he said.

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