Wednesday, 27 January 2021


Volunteer efforts help Coromandel kiwi find new ground

The revival of the Coromandel’s kiwi population has received a significant boost with the discovery of a new population of the bird in a previously uninhabited area of bush.

Conservation groups working in the east coast of the Peninsula are celebrating the major success, after identifying at least two breeding pairs in an area of scenic reserve at Rings Beach between Matarangi and Kuaotunu.

Representatives from Project Kiwi and the Rings Beach Wetland Group spent several consecutive nights in the reserve last month conducting audio monitoring for kiwi calls. This essentially involves sitting quietly and recording kiwi calls, noting time, sex, distance and direction of the calls between 6:00pm and 8:00pm.  

Dave Fitzgerald, secretary of Rings Beach Wetland Group, says the confirmation of the kiwi is the culmination of a long period of commitment and work by volunteers and supporters. “We’re really excited, it’s very encouraging,” he says. “It really shows the efforts of a number of people over many years is really paying off.”

Dave was involved in the recent monitoring and says the number of calls gradually increased, with female birds heard responding to their male counterparts on the second night. “We’re presuming there are at least two breeding pairs in there,” he says. “We noticed on one night an old pine tree stump which had been heavily carved at by kiwi, and kiwi droppings around that - they’d been looking for insects.”

Project Kiwi spokesperson, Paula Williams, says the confirmation that kiwi are in the reserve is significant on numerous levels. “It shows the reserve is a suitable habitat for kiwi and kiwi have arrived of their own volition,” she says. “We will conduct surveys in this reserve over the next two years to collect baseline data, but my expectation is the data will show birds are living in the reserve, not passing through.”

Paula says the strong likelihood breeding pairs are among the reserve’s kiwi population is a particularly positive sign. “Breeding pairs also tell us the habitat is good enough in terms of year-round water supply and food source for a pair to inhabit and raise chicks,” she says. Pairs also help anchor a population, so it is likely the reserve will retain some of its wandering juvenile kiwi and the population will self-seed.

However, the potential for the reserve to become a breeding ground means a heightened level of vigilance in terms of potential threats. “Breeding pairs mean baby chicks and present us with the knowledge and the challenge to provide a level of predator control where they will flourish and go on to breed too,” Paula says.

 The reserve’s new status as a habitat for New Zealand’s national bird will connect the Kuaotunu and Whangapoua Forest kiwi populations. Having the ability for separate populations to mix is a core part of the strategy for growing the number of birds on the Coromandel.

Chris Twemlow, a ranger with the Department of Conservation’s Coromandel District, says the confirmation if kiwi in the reserve demonstrates the value of Rings Beach Wetland Group’s conservation effort. “Conservation volunteers put in a huge amount of work and make contributions the wider public doesn’t always see,” he says. “We’re delighted to see such a great result as this illustrates the power of sustained collaborative effort.”

People can find out how to support the work of the Rings Beach Wetland group by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pictured: Members of the Rings Beach Wetland Group during a pot-luck dinner last week where they celebrated the discovery of kiwi an area of scenic reserve at Rings Beach. From the left - Jill Goodall, Kathy Speirs (treasurer), Ian McDonald, Carrie Parker (chair) and Dave Fitzgerald (secretary).


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