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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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May 5th, 2023

2023 – April Update

Whangārei Heads Landcare Forum AGM  –  7pm, Tuesday, May 30, McLeod Bay Hall.

Please come along and invite any other interested locals.  WHLF is a crucial platform for the many Landcare groups and individuals at the Whangārei Heads and it enables much of the positive work being done to happen. As usual, if we could please have a representative of each local group give a brief update of what their group has been up to this year.  It is always amazing to hear how the combined efforts of all the groups large and small add up to make the Whangārei Heads a better place.

It was sad to hear that Barbara Carr recently passed away. Barbara was part of the original WHLF committee back in 2001 and her work helped to set up the WHLF as a platform for community conservation work, which continues today.

Kiwi Counting Season starts on May 9th

We are getting things in place for our annual kiwi count. Thanks in advance to those hard working kiwi counters!  This monitoring work is a crucial check on the effectiveness of our stoat and dog control efforts. Hoping for some good fine, calm nights to make counting easier. Last year the data gave an adult kiwi population estimate of 1130 (up from just 80 in 2001).

Listen to your Backyard Kiwi

Without having the recording hassles and enduring the 8 cold hours of official call counting, now is the time to have a listen to your kiwi in your backyard. The breeding season is underway and they are calling hard.  When it suits you (and the bloody weather improves!), have a quiet listen for a short spell at your place. Just sit down with a drink of your choice and listen out. With a bit of practice you can get a reasonable idea of where your local breeding pairs are located. And more and more regularly kiwi are being heard in the Parua Bay/Owhiwa road area now as the population expands into the Kiwi Link area.

To distinguish the calls check out: What do Kiwi Sound like 

Northland Pest Control Workshop Sunday May 28th    At the Celtic Barn in Waipu These are always great events with heaps of good speakers. Big thanks to Ngaire and Kiwi Coast for organising them – see  details here Kiwi Coast 

The Rural Delivery TV program featuring Kiwi Coast and Backyard Kiwi has had a couple of reruns lately and once again has got positive interest both locally and wider.

Whangārei Heads School visit

After many Whangārei Heads School students enjoyed our public kiwi release back in March, I was invited along to talk to the school in April.  What an impressive bunch of humans!  I spoke to the whole school (years1-8) about how special their kiwi are (the usual evolution lesson on kiwi under mammal free NZ conditions) and how we as a community have been successful in population recovery through trapping and kiwi saver/1080 pulses for stoat control, and more importantly good dog control (they love toy dog Lizy being walked on a lead!).  The question and answer session went on for over an hour showing two things: the students’ passion for learning about their kiwi and also how mature, patient and well behaved they all were (including the young 5 year olds) waiting for their turn to ask a question.  Thank you – both students and staff are a credit to themselves, the school and our community.

What your monitored kiwi have been up to:


  Whangārei Heads/Parua Bay  Radio monitored kiwi:

  • Hope – Still moving about a bit from different patches of pampas and pines at Owhiwa Road. 11 hrs nightly activity.
  • Fish – Has moved back into the pines at Owhiwa rd after time further northeast at Ross rd.  12 hours  activity.
  • Chookie– Hanging in his usual patch of native bush/pines and pampas, between the Martins’ hut and Owhiwa rd.  He has been heard calling and getting a response from a female. 11 hours activity.
  • Malaika– Well settled in pine block at Owhiwa road – She is now fully grown and healthy and in much better condition than the last few times I handled her. Presume she must have been working hard laying eggs back then and has recovered now.  She is not a heavy girl at 2100g but that seems to be her happy weight. She is well settled now after her big walks from Parua Bay and then much further  north and back through Kiwi Link. She is a special kiwi for the many people whose backyards she has passed through and  she has made a very wise decision on where to settle; with Kerry and Carol Martin’s huge effort to keep her and her chicks safe there for the next half a century. Her important work as a transmitted kiwi is done now so I have removed her transmitter.(see pic and  will also put up a video of her on facebook)
  • Teina– Still is in his usual haunt of pampas and pines at the north end of Martins’ pine block Owhiwa road.11.5 hrs activity
  • Beach Girl – Keeps moving between the pines by Teina and the native bush of Halses’ place at the end of Ross Road.  12 hours average activity.
  • Pepi – Still can’t find this fella.  Reports of kiwi calling nearby but no radio signal yet.
  • Wally–Taking a well earned break after 9 months of solid nesting.10.5 hrs activity.
  • Pakipaki – In the pampas below the Manaia Club McLeod Bay. 12 hours activity.

Recently released kiwi:   

  • Murdoch – He is still on the move and now has headed east  and is now somewhere east of the end of Owhiwa Road- towards the end of Ross Road (named after his family!).  12 hrs activity.
  • Feta mama – Still south from his release spot to the area that Malaika and Valentine are/were. 12 hours average activity.
  • Om– Has headed north to the big pah at Ross Road.  12 hours activity.
  • Maia – She has moved north to Ross Road. 13 hours activity.

Rarewarewa/Purua ONE dads: 

Thanks to Ngati Hine and landowners at Purua these dads give us the chicks that we transfer to Matakohe/Limestone for growing up before being released through community engagement releases.

Lesley and Yagi

Tamra and Lesley get Rua from a deep burrow

To make sure that we don’t get a narrow range of genetics with these chicks we change the dads every few years. To do this the Fantastic Lesley Baigent from Kiwi Coast and her kiwi dog Yagi come down and have a sniff around.  Tamra from Doc and I followed behind to handle the kiwi. In a day and a bit they found 11 kiwi; 4 new adult males, 4 new adult females, 2 previously known (ID chipped) adult females and another female too deep in a burrow for us to reach. So 4 new potential dads are now radio transmitted (txd) – Thank you Lesley and Yagi.

Tamara weighs Red Sash

Lesley with Mrs George

We had the interesting find of 1 male and 2 females in the same burrow – they had been fighting so we thought possibly that the old girl was being stroppy and refusing to move from her prime burrow for the younger couple?  The old girl looked to be very old – check out the pics of her gnarly feet.  It was also good to find a kiwi pair near Lee McGrath’s house – they have been making a racket at night in her garden and under her house. The new male, named “Macky” by Lee, now has a tx. He was with an older female “Mrs George” who I’d come across back in 2010 with old dad “George”.  There are also some pics of Tamra in training with “Red Sasha” and using her experienced seabird burrow skills to catch “Rua” , another one of the new boys..

Gnarly feet

Very old kiwi  feet!

What the other dads are up to:

  • Nick – No signal this month- will check this week and remove tx.
  • Sancho – No signal this month -will check this week and remove tx
  • Ngutu Roa –  No signal this month -will check this week and remove tx .
  • Moondust– Behind Lovells’ woolshed, deep in a burrow. 12 hours average activity.
  • Buddha – In the creek bed in the paddock between McGraths’ quarry and reserve. 10 hours activity. Did his tx change 2400g and Good condition.
  • Macio– In tangle of supple jack below Kauri Tree ridge, southern Purua reserve. 11.5 hours activity. Did tx change 2400g and G.
  • Otiria –  In an even bigger tangle of supple jack (no cattle getting into the reserve these days) just below the western crater track, South side of Purua reserve, 13 hours activity. Did tx           change 1950g, PM. condition.
  • Mitch–  In the biggest tangle of supple jack just below the western crater track, South side of Purua reserve, 11 hours activity. Couldn’t get to him for tx change.
  • Kopaki – No signal – will check the north side this week  .
  • 64– South side of Purua reserve, Nightly activity of 11 hours.

Trapping/ toxin pulses

April catches: Stoats 4, Weasels 1, Cats 0, Rats 68, Hedgehogs 5, Possums 0.

It is pleasing to get some adult stoats at this time of year – including 3 females – catching these already pregnant, experienced adults is far more important than catching the young dumb ones in the spring/early summer

See you at the AGM – mark it on the calendar or on you device for you IT folks

Cheers Todd

Todd Hamilton

Backyard Kiwi Project Manager

Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum

M 021 1145 385



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