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

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October 9th, 2023

2023-September Report

Kiwi Nesting 

Murdoch’s nest


Wally’s nest

The first round of kiwi nesting is winding up at the Heads.  All four of the monitored breeding males at the Heads/Parua Bay have successfully hatched chicks and Chookie is back nesting already. If these guys are anything to go by it has been a productive kiwi breeding season to date.

This contrasts with the 10 monitored males in Purua where only one has hatched a chick so far, and there is only one other Purua monitored male nesting at this stage. Not sure why this is.  A difference between the two areas is that the nests at the Heads may be drier (especially the pampas ones) than the wet volcanic soil burrows of Purua this season? Whatever the cause, it is looking like a poor breeding season at Purua when we were expecting a bumper season. With things drying out the Purua dads may yet have a late run, otherwise the number of chicks being transferred to Limestone/Matakohoe may be limited this season.

The good news for any chicks hatching at Purua is that DoC have just carried out their 3 yearly controlled kiwi saver/1080 bait station pulse there and any trap shy stoats will be getting cleaned out.

Stoat Control at the Heads There is little value in a big crop of chicks hatching at the Heads without good stoat control to protect them. We work hard to maintain an extensive trapping network to control stoats but the fact is trapping effectiveness for stoats lasts 3 years at best before trap shy stoats start to dominate and do massive damage. A controlled bait station pulse of kiwi saver is the way to clean out these trap shy stoats – the rats eat the kiwi saver and are irresistible to the stoats, who are super susceptible to the toxin and die.

Rat at bait station

A massive thanks to the Manaia Landcare team, led by Martin and Jess, who have put many days in clearing the damage from Gabrielle on the bait station lines on Manaia,  reinstating bait stations and pre feeding them to key the rats and possums into them to maximise the effectiveness of  the toxin pulse. Not to mention the required paperwork. Thank you on behalf of all the kiwi chicks- and all the other birds and plants too!  This toxin pulse in conjunction with several others on private land in the district means a good breeding season becomes a boomer and the forest continues to recover. Remember 20 years ago when Manaia was looking pretty sad.  The forest recovery has been fantastic!

Trapping Even with the toxin pulses we maintain our predator traps, particular in the areas away from the pulses.

September catches: Stoats 1, Weasels 2, Cats 3, Rats 80, Hedgehogs 4, Possums 10.

Over the next couple of months young stoats will start to disperse so we maintain the trapping particularly for these guys re-invading. Luckily they are young and dumb so quality trapping works on most of them.We use salted rabbit as lure for stoat traps so if you are doing any rabbit shooting and are able to throw a few fresh ones in the freezer I will gratefully collect them. Thanks.

Bittern Booming season Matuku/Bittern are booming at the moment. Kiwi Coast is putting out automatic listening devices (same as the KLDs) to confirm bittern locations.  If you hear bittern booming at your place please let me or Ngaire know.

If you want to know more about these elusive birds WHLF are working on a Bittern evening – we will let you know when is happening.

Matuku Bittern

Bittern – Heather Hunt

Whangarei Heads/Parua Bay Radio monitored kiwi:    Between chicks hatching and young kiwi going walk about it has been a busy month following your kiwi:

  • Chookie – He has started his second nest for the season – 19 days in 3/10/23. 230 minutes of nightly activity. Nesting in his usual area at the Martins’ block. Start of Owhiwa Road.
  • Teina– In his usual area of pampas and pines at the north end of Martins’ pine block. Down slightly at 9 hours activity but still not nesting.
  • Beach Girl – She has been hanging on the Martins’ and Halses’ blocks boundary. Her activity is back up to 11 hours nightly after a stint of very low activity- possibly from egg laying.
  • Hope –  She has remained in the pampas and young pines at the Northern end of Martins’ block, 11 hours activity.
  • Fish– He has been on the move again, heading NE from the end of Ross Road.  I have lost contact with him since 19/9/23 when he was somewhere around the end of Taraunui road.  Carl of PNLC is keeping an ear out for him.
  • Murdoch – After being released back in March and wandering North to the area between the end of Owhiwa and Ross Roads he has made himself at home and successfully hatched two chicks. The chick timer transmitter didn’t pick up the hatches but after 82 days the data stream showed his increasing activity so I had a careful nest check: there were 2 healthy chicks so ID chipped them (see pics).  The landowner there had just passed away so we named the older chick “Ted” after him. Locals are naming the second chick.  Ngaire is working with Kiwi Link trappers at increasing the trapping in this area with the new chicks being a great incentive. I did Murdoch’s transmitter band change – Down to 1750g and in poor condition after his nesting stint


Murdoch’s chicks

  • Om– She has been hanging close to Murdoch’s nest so presume that they are a pair. 11 hours of nightly activity, it will be interesting to see if they breed again this season.
  • Maia– She continues to cruise around the Martins’ pine block.  Fetu mama has moved on from near her (see below) and she is not close to Humphries either at the moment. 11 hours nightly activity.
  • Fetu Mama – She kept Kerry and I busy by faking a move to the east and then disappearing off the radar.  Many hours of listening later I was bloody lucky to get a weak signal from her in a NW direction from Campbell road and spent a day tracking her to the Maungatika Scienic Reserve way up the top of Tiger Mt (meeting plenty of new locals on the way). This is nearly 10km away from Campbell Road and over 5 km in a straight line from our last contact with her, with plenty of valleys, creeks and ridges in between  – she may have used Owhiwa road to help her make the journey. It was lucky she was on a high peak or I would have never got the original signal.  Presume that she is sitting up high calling and listening for any replies. Ngaire has put a Kiwi Listening Device (KLD) in to check and has just rung to say she recorded a male calling!  Fetu Mama is hanging near the road and the nearby houses (which when visited already had superb dog fences).  She has proved to be a true example of the “Kiwi Link” area and Whareora Landcare are celebrating her arrival.  If she doesn’t like the boy she is hearing nearby she may move on or return to Parua Bay (as Malaika did several years ago), but It would be fantastic if she was to team up with and expand the population at Whareora.
  • Humphries– This young fella has headed slightly north of where he had been with Maia and Fetu mama last month. The two older girls have left him. His activity is 10.5 hours.
  • Te Motu Manu Hine – Still no signal since 23/6/23 despite wide searches by both  Kerry and me and also Carl of PNLC to the north. After Fetu mama’s recent travels it looks like I may have to have an even wider search for her.
  • Wally– Nesting in a pampas bush at the end of Campbell Road.  He certainly tested my patience, after his data stream showed a hatch at 68 days of nesting it wasn’t until 27 days later that an increase in activity was shown (12 visits getting his data stream from the nearby roadside later). A careful nest check saw two successfully hatched chicks – the older one was at 27 days old and a much younger one of approximately 5 days old.  Dad was 1900g and in poor condition after his nesting effort. Locals  from Campbell Road Landcare are naming the chicks

  • Pakipaki– Finally caught up with her to remove her transmitter.  After bouncing between the dense pampas below the Manaia Cub and the pampas and gorse in the Horse paddock she roosted in a small patch of relatively accessible pampas in the Johnstones’ paddock.  She was 2450g, 132.6 mm and good condition.  She has been a fantastic ambassador for the local kiwi since her release back in 2017. Being able to get her signal from the local takeaways, roadside, Manaia Club and McLeod Bay playground has given many locals and visitors an “ears on” kiwi monitoring experience. This is while many were sensibly walking their dogs responsible on a lead on the footpath there – great positive reinforcement . With her mate Waewae now transmitted Pakipaki has finished her important work.  


  • Waewae – Nesting in pampas in the McLeod Bay Horse paddock. Hatched his first egg at 69 days nesting on 29/9/23. I am waiting for an increase in his activity and then will try to have a careful nest check in the pampas.


Rarewarewa/Purua ONE dads: Still no big burst of nesting activity yet which is becoming a concern;

  • Moondust– Usual area behind Lovell’s Irving road woolshed. Still not nesting, 11.5 hours of activity.
  •  Buddha – Last month’s nesting attempt failed early on. 10.5 hours activity. In the paddock north of McGraths’ quarry.
  • Macio – No signal since 10/7/23 despite a good search.
  • Otiria–  In the South side of Purua reserve,  11.5 hours nightly activity.
  •        Mitch– South Purua reserve, 12 hours activity
  • 64– On the steep face below the start of the western Purua reserve track. His data stream showed a hatch after 80 days nesting and then an increase in activity a few days later. Checked the nest and the single egg had successfully hatched but no sign of chick- stoated?? (just prior to kiwi saver pulse). First egg had already been rolled out of the nest early in incubation. Dad was 2200g and in moderate condition so may nest again hopefully (see pic).
  • Tahi – At the back of Alisons’ farm, east of Purua reserve.  10 hours of activity.
  • Rua– At the back of Alisons’. This guy is back down to 6.5 hours after two failed nesting attempts. Might be 3rd time lucky.
  • Macky –  In George’s bush – 11 hours activity.
  • Derek – South Purua reserve. Nesting 59 days on 22/9/23. 4.5 hours nightly activity .


Cheers Todd

Todd Hamilton

Backyard Kiwi Project Manager

Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum

M 021 1145 385






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