A southern brown kiwi found dead more than 1000 kilometres from home may have been kiwi-napped from Stewart Island or Fiordland, the Department of Conservation says.
The endangered female kiwi was found in a hay barn near Otaki, on the Kapiti Coast, by a farmer. It appeared to have been mauled by a dog.
No kiwis have been seen in the wild around Otaki for more than 100 years. The bird appeared to be a species of southern brown kiwi found in Fiordland and Stewart Island.
DOC technical adviser Rogan Colbourne said there was a small population of the southern brown kiwi on nearby Kapiti Island but it was unlikely the bird had come from there.
"They can't swim that far."
It was more likely someone had smuggled the bird from the deep south to Otaki and kept it secretly as a pet.
The bird was also missing a toe, indicating she was once caught in a trap and perhaps had been rescued by her then-captor.
Colbourne said he thought a hunter on a trip in Stewart Island was the most likely culprit and may have been keeping the bird as a pet for years.
"Someone must have thought it was quite novel to have a kiwi as a pet, some bird fancier maybe," he said.
The kiwi appeared well cared for but keeping it was an offence punishable by up to two years' jail or a $100,000 fine.
DNA tests will be carried out to determine where the kiwi came from.
- The Southland Times