Third white kiwi for Pukaha Mt Bruce

HATCHED: The latest white kiwi chick hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce . Photo taken when it was just one day old.
HATCHED: The latest white kiwi chick hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce . Photo taken when it was just one day old.

A third white kiwi chick has hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce, in the southern Tararua district.

The so far unnamed bird hatched on Monday and follows Manukura, hatched in May last year and Mauriora born in December.

The white feathers are caused by a genetic trait. Department of Conservation staff knew the eggs had come from Manukura's father, so knew there was a 25 per cent possibility of another white kiwi, but it still came as a surprise.

''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'', Mt Bruce wildlife centre manager Kathy Houkamau 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.

''Depending on how much support this little white kiwi chick needs, visitors may be able to see the chick at the 12pm feeding time in the next week or two,'' Houkamau said.

She went on to say unfortunately Pukaha can't guarantee whether the chick will be able to be viewed as it is really up to the kiwi chick and how quickly it begins to feed itself.

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.

''All three white birds have the same father, who we have identified through his transmitter,'' Department of Conservation captive breeding ranger Darren Page said.

''We can't identify the mother but assume she is the same because of the rarity of the white gene.''

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 island, north of Auckland, is generally off-limits to visitors.

Local Maori iwi Rangitane o Wairarapa are delighted that Pukaha Mount Bruce has been blessed a third time.

''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,'' Rangitane chief executive and Pukaha board member Jason Kerehi said.

The iwi will name the chick over the next few days.

This white kiwi is the seventh to have hatched at the centre so far this season, with more birds expected before the season ends.

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

Manawatu Standard