Useful links

Thanks to an active intervention program, at Whangarei Heads we really do have kiwi in our backyard.

Read more!

August 10th, 2018

July 2018 Update

We are wining! Our Kiwi population keeps increasing.

The annual assessment of our kiwi numbers by using 19 kiwi call listening sites has shown another increase in kiwi numbers at the Whangarei Heads.   183 individual males and 91 females were identified compared with 176 males and 91 females last year (females call less so are underrepresented).   Because only part of the kiwi habitat at the Heads is covered by listening stations this data translates into an estimated population of 915 adult kiwi based on the same assumptions used in past years.  880 was the estimation for last year so a 4% growth (down from the 10% growth of past years but well up on the national negative 2%). The kiwi listening was particularly hard this year due to the listening window being later than usual and the weather often windy. This system of population estimation is only approximate but is the best we have and we use many more stations than most groups to get the best data we can.  We have come a long way from a population of approximately 80 kiwi back in 2001!!!!! Well done to all of you!!

See detailed information on our Annual Kiwi Call count page


Thanks to the listeners who braved the cold nights and difficult conditions to get this data and thanks to Fay Clayton for doing the majority of the data entry – it is big job. Also thanks to the NRC biosecurity team and Kiwi Coast for loaning us electronic kiwi listening devices and analysing the recordings. See attached tables for details of call counts.

But there are losses- 3 kiwi killed by pet dogs

After years of very few dog kills at the Whangarei Heads there have been 3 kiwi killed by dogs recently.  In one case the pet dogs were sleeping outside on a property and the owners woke up to a dead kiwi.  If your dogs are outside at night please have them tied up or even better still in an area with a fence that keeps the dogs in and kiwi out.  Rabbit mesh is available at the fence shop on Cameron Street, this mesh stops the curious kiwi entering the area. The other two kiwi were killed on areas near roads where either wandering dogs or dogs being walked, but not on a lead found the kiwi. Dog DNA on these dead kiwi, X-ray analysis of injuries and full autopsies by Massey University confirmed that dogs killed these kiwi. On the whole dog owners at the Heads are to be congratulated on their good dog control but a few people are being a bit slack. People often ask about Kiwi avoidance training for dogs – this was developed for hunting dogs which are only in a kiwi area for a short time.  Scientific studies have shown that the training is ineffective on pet dogs and this has been backed but by 3 cases at the Heads where uncontrolled aversion trained dogs have killed kiwi, using a lead is far more effective.

Funding – thank you Kiwis for Kiwi and the NRC


Our application to Kiwis for Kiwi for funding of the ONE programme that leads to kiwi releases for Whangarei Heads (Backyard Kiwi, Bream Head Conservation Trust),  Tutukaka Landcare Coalition, Tanekaha CPCA and Pataua North Landcare was successful. Thank you Kiwis for Kiwi for your ongoing support it is much appreciated and we believe it is very good value for money with these releases a cornerstone of community engagement for all these groups.

Also a big thank you to all the rate payers in the wider Northland area. Funding from the general NRC rate for pest control allows our kiwi predator trapping and kiwi monitoring work to continue. This NRC funding replaces the Targeted rate at the Whangarei Heads that has successfully funded a significant part of the kiwi recovery work and weed action done here over the past two years.

Backyard Kiwi Predator Control Programme :

Catches for July  in the predator traps:

Stoats 2, Weasels 5, Cats 8, Rats 55, Hedgehogs 12 and 13 possums


Controlled 1080 pulse in bait stations

Even the best trapping systems do not catch all the stoats and in fact get less effective overtime, with more and more untrappable stoats surviving. This is why a controlled pulse of a toxin that will eliminate trap shy stoats through secondary poisoning is crucial.  1080 is by far the most effective and safest toxin to use for this.  Manaia Landcare are currently undertaking a controlled pulse on Manaia which will mean a great breeding season for our kiwi and other birds at Whangarei Heads this spring.

What your radio tracked Backyard Kiwi have been up to:

After the peak calling period for breeding the dads are starting to get down to the serious business of nesting- where they will spend 3 months on a nest..

  • Darwin – At Lamb road, nesting in a hollow puriri tree in the bush just south of the quarry. His nightly activity was 3 hours per night at day 11 of nesting which is good.
  • Lambert – In pampas by main track on Taurikura ridge. Activity 3 hours per night at day 37 on 30/7/18.
  • Whitu– Usual area at freezing works ruins at Reotahi. He is nesting and had a nightly activity of only 1.5 hours after 54 days of nesting. This guy often has a very low activity every second night so I put a trail camera near his nest to check him and it confirmed that he stays at home every second night which is very dedicated parenting.
  • EB – In pampas at Kerr rd. Activity still high at 12 hours. The pines nearby are being logged so I have kept the operators  updated.
  • Pakipaki – Back at the horse paddock in McLeods again. Activity mainly high.
  • JJ2 – she is still showing a good activity of 11.5 hours and is well settled in the scrub between Kerr Road and Rarangi Heights.

Recent Releases

These guys are more settled – except Mokopuna who has made a big move.

  • Ross  – He has spent the last 10 weeks in the area just inland from Solomon’s point, opposite the boat ramp – seems pretty settled.
  • Harikoa – Has crossed back over the creek from Lamb road to Taraunui Road where she originally spent a lot of time.
  • Rukuwai – As planned her temporary transmitter has fallen off. She has settled in the area between  Kauri Mt road and Kerr rd.
  • Mokopuna –  after being settled at the Lamb road quarry area she has walked 2 km north and is now in the pines at the end of Campbell Road, landowners there have recently heard a male kiwi calling there so she may have hooked up with him.


ONE program (funded by Kiwis for Kiwi):


Nesting is well underway for most of these guys too.

  • The Acrobat – Usual area in Lovell’s fenced bush. Still no sign of nesting.
  • Waimarie – Nesting in paddock south of Lovell’s bush. Activity is high at 9.5 hours on day 19 on 20/7/19 so he may not last.
  • Ngutu Roa – Nesting in usual area SW reserve.  4.5 hours activity on day 9.
  • Sancho – Nesting just in paddock N of reserve. 4 hours activity at day 23.
  • CFU – Nesting in usual area in paddock south of reserve. Activity 7.5 hours at day 19 so may be waiting for second egg before he gets down to serious incubation.
  • The Boxer – Usual area W end of reserve. Nesting- 26 days in on 20/7/18 with activity of 4 hours.

We are also monitoring 4 new potential ONE dads the Hugh and Rogan located with their kiwi dogs on their recent trip here.  Two of those kiwi are now nesting.


Other happenings:

Upcoming Kiwi Event for Kiwi Link area

“Kiwi Link” involves 10 groups doing kiwi recovery work covering the landscape between the Whangarei Heads and Tutukaka kiwi strong holds. On Sunday September 9 the Whareora Landcare group is hosting a meet a kiwi event as part of the Kiwi Link.  These kiwi will come from our combined ONE work and will be transferred from Limestone Island and released in the Pataua North LC area after the public event. See for details closer to the date.

BYK videos

Heather and I have visited Whangarei Heads and Parua Bay School assemblies to show the BYK “Release Video” and update the students on the movements of their local kiwi.  The release video is getting plenty of exposure elsewhere too and Heather and the production crew are making great progress on the next couple of videos in the series – they look great – we will keep you update on their release dates.


Predator Free 2050

Ed Chignall and a crew from PF2050 visited the Heads with the NRC and Kiwi Coast recently.  I gave them a brief overview of the history of the WHLF and BYK – its success based on community engagement and effective on the ground work on a limited budget.  They have a vision of pest eradication which is a huge step up from what we have been doing for the last 18 years.  Eradication will take quantum leaps in pest control technology, budgets and community commitment to be effective over the wider Whangarei Heads landscape.  I stressed to them the before possible eradication is even planned to be attempted that a thorough and genuine consultation will be required with  all of the Whangarei Heads community, landowners, Iwi, agencies etc to see if there is a mandate for this huge commitment, that there is a realist eradication method for the species involved and that is financially viable.  Being pest free would be fantastic but there is no point making unrealistic promises without the commitment, money and technology to do it. We will watch to see what happens.



Todd Hamilton

Backyard Kiwi Project Manager

Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum

M 021 1145 385


Comments are closed.