Third white kiwi chick hatched

NEW ARRIVAL: The one day old white kiwi chick at Pukaha Mount Bruce national wildlife centre.
NEW ARRIVAL: The one day old white kiwi chick at Pukaha Mount Bruce national wildlife centre.

The white kiwi stocks at a Wairarapa wildlife centre have once again been boosted with the arrival of a third chick.

The rare white chick hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce national wildlife centre - north of Masterton - just prior to Department of Conservation staff arriving at the centre's kiwi nursery on Monday.

It follows the hatching of Manukura in May 2011, and Mauriora in December.

Centre manager Kathy Houkamau said staff knew that the eggs had come from Manukura's father, so were aware there was a 25 per cent chance of another white kiwi.

"We did know there was the chance of another white kiwi, so of course we weren't surprised, but it is still exciting for us,'' she said.

"It is rare enough that two brown kiwi carrying the rare recessive white gene mate in the first place, that they would go on to produce three white kiwi is....well, we're very blessed."

A small number of North Island Brown Kiwi carry the recessive white gene which both the male and female must have to produce a white chick.

There is a one-in-four chance of such a pair producing one.

Monday's kiwi is the seventh to have hatched at the centre so far this season, with more expected.

Another egg currently incubating in the nursery is from the same nest as this white kiwi chick, so there is a 25 per cent chance of a fourth white chick.

Rangitane chief executive and Pukaha board member Jason Kerehi said the iwi would name the new chick over the next few days.

"We have always known the reserve at Pukaha Mount Bruce is a very special and spiritual place, this third white kiwi is confirmation of what we have always known.''

The parents of the three white chicks were among 30 kiwi transferred from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island in 2010 to boost the adult kiwi population at Pukaha.

White kiwi are known to exist on the island.

The Dominion Post