Two young kiwi birds in Taranaki's eastern hill country met their namesakes yesterday - an All Black and a former Prime Minister.
Beauden Barrett and Jim Bolger, both from coastal Taranaki, made a special trip to cuddle the chicks which had been retrieved from the bush for their three-monthly health check up.
Karen and Bob Schumacher of East Taranaki Environment Trust (ETET) organised the meet in Purangi, 40km inland from Inglewood, to raise the profile of the kiwi project and give locals and volunteers a chance to get up close with the national birds.
Things got a bit tense when Barrett and Bolger's flight from Auckland was cancelled causing a 45 minute delay.
Luckily they got on another plane and arrived by helicopter in Purangi as ominous rain clouds loomed over the hills.
After a few quick speeches from local iwi Ngati Maru, sponsor HTL Insurance, Barrett, Bolger and Karen, the kiwi chicks were taken out for a few photos just as the heavens opened.
As the rain poured down, a dedicated band of kiwi trackers hiked the chicks back into the bush and the shelter of their burrows.
Bolger, who is patron of ETET, reminded Barrett he used to play footy with his grandfather down the coast.
He suggested the razorback hill country might be suitable for All Blacks training.
"I can see why they're giving it back to kiwi, you wouldn't want to do much else with it."
Bolger said it was wonderful to see so many people supporting the project that required such a community effort.
"To live with a sense of wellbeing in the community it's much more than just creating wealth."
Barrett said that as a coastal boy he was happy to venture to the opposite side of the province and see what the kiwi project was all about.
"It's pretty special to give back to the environment which these days a lot of people overlook."
And holding a kiwi which was named after him was not an experience he took lightly.
"I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it."
Lyall Bunn of HTL Insurance, which sponsors "Beaudy" the kiwi, said he was enjoying learning more about kiwi and the project in Purangi.
"Once you start a conversation with Karen you end up having to do something out here."
- Taranaki Daily News
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