Pukaha wildlife centre buzzing at successful hatch of 100th kiwi chick
A new kiwi chick has stolen the hearts of wildlife centre staff and left experienced conservationists astonished by arriving well before expected.
Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre officially welcomed it's 100th kiwi into the world on Saturday.
Lead kiwi ranger Jess Flamy said it was a massive milestone for the breeding programme, which has run since 2005.
"Though it seems like just a number, it means a lot more than that to us. It's fantastic, it is really a big thing for all of us involved in the programme."
Flamy and conservation manager Todd Jenkinson went out into the reserve on Thursday to retrieve two eggs that were due to hatch from the care of the father kiwi, Kakama.
Staff had been monitoring the eggs in the nest thinking they would hatch over the next three weeks so had not expected to find one already hatching went they went to collect them, with the bird fully emerging two days later.
Jenkinson said he pulled the egg out of the nest and could feel the bird moving inside.
"It was a bit of a wow moment really because we expected the hatching process to come after we had moved the egg into the nursery.
"Jess lit the egg up and we could see a small crack, showing it was definitely on its way out, Kakama was also hatched here so these eggs are second generation."
Male kiwis incubate the eggs and are fitted with transmitters which staff use to monitor changes in behaviour and movement which indicates if the kiwi are looking after eggs.
The sex of the latest additions to the Pukaha kiwi population would be unknown until a feather could be sent to Massey University for testing, Jenkinson said.
Kiwis for Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey said it was another successful step in what has been a long and difficult effort to reverse the decline of the unique flightless birds.
"Pukaha is one of six facilities nationwide that hatch kiwi eggs as part of the Operation Nest Egg programme. This programme has enabled us over the years since 1994 to significantly boost kiwi numbers and make excellent progress in replenishing these wonderful creatures."
Pukaha general manager Helen Tickner said in celebration of the hatching the centre will have free entry for children on Sunday and the 100th kiwi chick will be on display for the public briefly at noon.
"We are looking forward to a a week of celebrating all things kiwi from March 26 until April 3. We are rapt we have reached this milestone but know that it wouldn't have been possible without the long term support and assistance of all our supporters."