Manukura the white kiwi has her first boyfriend - and it seems she's the one wearing the pants in the relationship.
The rare kiwi made headlines around the world when she was hatched last May at the Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre in Wairarapa.
She is believed to be the first all-white chick to be hatched in captivity.
Now 14-months old, she has recently been paired with a young male brown kiwi - currently named 'MB27' after the order of his hatching - and the cautious couple have been burrow-swapping in their private indoor enclosure.
Department of Conservation captive breeding ranger Philip Wisker said they seemed to be ''getting on ok'' since moving in together, but still kept largely apart.
''They're both doing well, and eating well,'' he said.
''She's certainly the one in charge, though, she checks to make sure he's still there but she's the one that gets the pick of the nest boxes.
''She goes over to him and gives him a prod with her beak and when he jumps and gets a fright, then she runs off.''
Kiwi do not become sexually active until around three years of age, but it is hoped the pair will one day mate as part of Pukaha's ''Operation Nest Egg'' breeding programme.
If they did, their offspring would likely be brown, as the chances of two kiwi carrying the necessary white genes was extremely rare.
Kiwi were often solitary animals, but if they were put together while young they would often ''snuggle up together'', Mr Wisker said.
While Manukura now races around her enclosure, jumping onto logs and chasing insects, her short life has not always gone so well.
Last October she had to undergo surgery to have a stone removed from her gizzard at the Otago School of Medicine in Newtown.
An endoscope was inserted via the bird's beak to find the stone, which enabled a surgeon to bombard it with laser zaps to break it into smaller pieces.
Manukura's parents were among 30 kiwi transferred to Wairarapa from Little Barrier Island in 2010.
A second white chick, named Mauriora, was hatched in December, with the two white kiwi sharing a father and most likely the same mother.
The young male is currently installed in Pukaha's kiwi ''creche'', but will be released into the wild when he gets to optimum weight about 2-2.5 kilograms.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What would you like the weather to do in March?