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Rights: Scottie Productions
Published 16 August 2016
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Kiwi – Aotearoa’s national icon – are under threat from introduced pests. In this episode of Project Mātauranga, Dr John McLennan and members of the Lake Waikaremoana Hapū Restoration Trust explain how they created inland islands to protect kiwi chicks. They’ve helped create a conservation methodology that many other kaitiaki groups now follow.

Transcript

Dr Ocean Mercier

Māori have always been scientists, and we continue to be scientists. Our science has allowed us to live, work and thrive in the world for hundreds of years. My name is Dr Ocean Mercier, and I’m a lecturer in pūtaiao Māori at the Victoria University of Wellington. My job takes me all over the world to talk about Māori science and how traditional knowledge is being married with western science here in Aotearoa in order to find innovative solutions to universal global issues.

In this programme, we are going to show you how these worlds of science are intersecting and how the paths to our future are being formed.

Dr Ocean Mercier

I ngā wā o mua, ko Waikaremoana i te poho o te Urewera, te tino kāinga o te kiwi parure (Lake Waikaremoana in the midst of the Urewera was once a haven for brown kiwi), but from 1920 to 1992, it’s estimated that the population had declined by 90% to fewer than 35 kiwi spread over 5,000 hectares of forest.

Ki a Tūhoe, he mea whakatūmeke te ngaronga o te kiwi i te Urewera (For Tūhoe, the disappearance of the kiwi in the Urewera was alarming), and the Lake Waikaremoana Hapū Restoration Trust was formed in an attempt to restore this taonga species.

Building a relationship with Maanaki Whenua, the Trust hoped this programme would turn things around for the brown kiwi and potentially be used as a template for restoring kiwi all over Aotearoa.

James Waiwai

Ko te kore, ko te pū, ko te more, ko te weu, ko te aka, ko te rea, ko te wao nui. Ko te kune,

ko te whē, ko ihu anake. Ko whetū, ko te rā, ko te marama, ko te pō, ko te ao ō Rangi-nui e tū iho nei, ko Papa-tū-ā-nuku e takoto nei. Ko ngā pou tiri ō te ao, ko ngā pou tiri ō te pō

ū hia, wero hia, tā māua te hiringa, tā māua te horonga, tūturu whaka-maua kia tina (tina).

Hui ē, tā hiki ē.

Dr Ocean Mercier

When our tūpuna arrived in Aotearoa, the calls of birds in the forests were deafening, and kiwi became an important resource and taonga. Known as the manu huna a Tāne, they are one of his most treasured children and their feathers used to make prized cloaks usually reserved for chiefs. The flightless bird has significance for all New Zealanders and became a symbol of pride and endearment for the nation.

But with the kiwi under threat and numbers diminishing, many feared it was a taonga that could be lost. Kua whakatangetange rīaka te hapū o Waikaremoana kia kaua te kiwi e mate, engari, kia tūperepere kē te tipu mai anō o te manu huna a Tāne ki roto i te wao. (The hapū of Lake Waikaremoana were determined this wouldn’t happen and that te manu huna a Tāne would flourish in their forests once more.)

James Waiwai

Kua timata ai ngā mahi nei i te tau 1992 neke atu i mua, engari i whakamanahia i te tau rā. Whakakōrerorero, whakawhitiwhiti, a, whakamanatia a Manaaki Whenua e Doctor John ma, kia kuhu mai ki te rangahau. Kia rangahauhia e Manaaki Whenua he aha ai te manu nei a te kiwi kāore i te tino rongohia e ngā pāpāringa ō mātou moana. (The project was sparked in 1992 and came into effect that year. It was debated and discussed in great depth and fully supported by Manaaki Whenua and Dr John to do some research. Landcare Research chose the area to test the theory why the kiwi is becoming extinct on Lake Waikaremoana.)

Dr Ocean Mercier

Ko tākuta John McClennan te pou o te hōtaka nei. (Dr John McClennan is heading this project.)

I te rā nei kei te toro ia i a Rik Winitana o te Uepu Roto Moana o ngā hapū o Waikaremoana, ki te wānanga e ahu pēhea ana te mahi. (Today, he’s visiting Rik Winitana from the Lake Waikaremoana Hapū Trust to catch up on how the programme’s going.)

Rik Winitana

We’ve been involved with the kiwi for – for this project anyway – for a number of years. Right from the beginning, right back to when John McLennan started here. Back in those days, a lot of the traps were made, DOC supplied some as well and we made them up as well all by hand. Yeah, we do the outside work. We got a little one going at the moment getting firewood for the old people. We mow lawns, do contracts through DOC, contracts through the local council and any other work we can pick up. It’s all about getting money together for the project.

We’re going to head across to Puketukutuku Peninsula. On there we’ve got, we go out there clearing traps for the kiwi restoration project. 

Dr Ocean Mercier

50% of kiwi eggs fail to hatch. Sometimes, this is because of natural bacteria, but more often, it’s predators. Of the eggs that do hatch, around 90% of chicks are dead within 6 months. 70% of these are killed by stoats or cats. Fewer than 5% reach adulthood.

Dr Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere

Te wā tamariki nei ahau, noho mai ngā kiwi ki ō mātou taha ki konei. I tēnei wā kei runga ake rātou kei te ngahere, kāore i ō mātou taha i tēnei wā. Te wā i tae mai a tauiwi, ka haere mai ēra whanaunga ō tātou – stoats, weasels – kāore kau mōhio te kupu Māori mō tēra. Hoi anō he whanaunga wērā tāua te Māori, ēngari kāore rātou i houmai mai i konei. I tino kaupapa tēnei, kia hoki mai ā te tini te maha, o ō tāua whanaunga ngā kiwi kātoa, te kākā, te kōkako – ēra manu kātoa, kia hoki āra ­ te tini te maha ki runga ki tēnei whenua – ana ki tēnei wāhanga ō Hawaiki toutou. (When I was a child, kiwi were visible in our backyard. Today, they’ve moved up into the forest, no longer in our backyard today. When the European arrived here, they brought with them predators of the kiwi – stoats, weasels. We have a correlation to those animals though they weren’t originally from here. This is an important issue that the population of the kiwi increases – all of the birds like the kākā, the kōkako – population doubles back on our land of Hawaiki Toutou.)

Dr John McLennan

I came here in 1992 to find out why kiwi were declining, and I’d… I was working for Manaaki Whenua back then, and everyone used to say that kiwi were becoming less and less common, and by 1992, we knew that was because there weren’t enough young ones coming through to replace the adults that were inevitably dying of old age.

So we came up here with a pretty firm view about what was causing that. We thought stoats or predators in general were probably taking out the young ones before they became mature enough to breed.

Dr Ocean Mercier

The unique geography of the Puketukutuku Peninsula provided an opportunity to create an inland island with fencing. If predators like stoats could be kept out and brown kiwis kept in, it was hoped the kiwi population would flourish once again, but a predator trapping programme would need to clear the inland island they had created.

Dr John McLennan

With the help of the local hapū, we set up a trapping programme on Puketukutuku, and we just monitored what happened.

Dr Ocean Mercier

With a plan in place to save the kiwi at Lake Waikaremoana, the eradication of stoats and other predators would need to be achieved without an adverse impact on the kiwi population. After the break, we look at how this was achieved, and the social impacts that the project has had on the area.

Since 1992, a kiwi restoration effort has been under way with Lake Waikaremoana Hapū Restoration Trust working alongside Dr John McClennan and the Department of Conservation.

They created an inland island by fencing off Puketukutuku Peninsula and then began a trapping programme to eliminate predators.

I te rā nei, kei te whakawhiti a John rāua ko Riki i te roto ki te kūrae o Puketukutuku ki te whakatutuki i te tirotiro-ā-marama i ngā rore. (Today, John and Riki are travelling across the lake to Puketukutuku Peninsula to do the monthly checking of the traps.)

Rik Winitana

Up behind here is Panekire, that’s our maunga. Now this is Puketukutuku Peninsula where we do a lot of our main stuff – and all our kiwis are camped up here, all our chicks are on here. We come out here at least once a month to check the traps.

Dr John McLennan

We’re standing here at the base of Puketukutuku Peninsula. So the peninsula itself runs that way, and its about 750 hectares in size, and its surrounded on three sides by water, and that’s why we chose it way back in 1992 for predator control because we figured we could probably win in a place like this where the water prevented predators from getting in on three sides. So we covered the place in traps, and we trapped from 1995 onwards. And people look at this fence, and they think it’s to stop predators from getting in, but it doesn’t do that, it’s too low for that – it stops the chicks leaving.

And so we wanted to restore this place back to the way it used to be, from 24 kiwi up to an unknown number that we didn’t know, and the only way we could make that happen was to make sure the chicks stayed and settled in this population.  

Rik Winitana

The egg here, that’s just to draw the predators in. So when the old stoat comes along, he walks through the little door here, through this baffle, he’ll step on this and … that’s what gets him. There’s probably about 60 of these, they are right up the fenceline – 1.5 kilometres.

I think last week we got around about, I think it would have been about four or five, if I can remember right off the top of my head, and that was over probably 3 k of line.

Dr Ocean Mercier

Engari he wāhanga noa iho te hopu o te hōtaka whānui, ko te kōrero me te whakaako i ngā tamariki tētahi atu wāhanga e angitū tonu ai te kaupapa. (But trapping’s just part of the programme. Educating and engaging tamariki ensures the future of the programme.)

Mokou Lambert

Ēnei ngā hoariri ō te kiwi – he paihamu tēnei, he kiore tēra, he kati tēnei, he ngeru tēra. (These are the kiwi predators. This is a possum, and that’s a rat.)

James Waiwai

Ko te hoariri ko te manu nei ia te kiwi, a i runga te moana nei – ara ko te stoat, ko nā ngeru, ō ngā wīhara. Ko te stoat nei te tino hoariri, a, o te manu nei. Ehara ngā tāua kararehe te hē, nā te tangata i mau mai i a ia, kō ia te kaikōhuru a tēra tūmomo kararehe i ngā manu ā, mō te – mō te patu noa iho te mahi. Kāore mō te hiakai, patu ano iho e ia. (The kiwi predator on the lake here is the stoat, cats and weasels. The stoat is the dominant predator of the kiwi. And it’s not its fault. It was the person who brought the stoat here at fault. The stoat is a treacherous animal to the kiwi. Stoats just like to kill for the sake of it. They’re not killing because of hunger.)

Tirohia ia mātou ko te kaupapa ra, te mea tuatahi hei whakahoki i tāku hapū ki roto i tō rātou kaitikitanga. Ā kia kaua noho kia whai mana tāua kōrero rā ki roto i a ratou, kaua noho ki te ngutu ēngari ki roto ki ō rātou ngakau. E mōhiohia ia mātou e mārama e rātou, ko mātou ngā whakarere iho tanga ngā kaitiaki ō te moana nei, ko te ngahere nei, ko tō mātou wāhanga o te Urewera. Āe mōhio ai rātou ki te tiaki ngā kararehe, me ōna manu me ōna āhua kātoa. (When we looked at this project, our first step was to return to our hapū the role of guardianship in order for that role to have mana. It can’t just be all talk but they must truly believe it in their heart so that they know and understand we the descendants are the guardians of this lake. This forest is our instalment to te Urewera to protect the animals, the birds and its environment.)

Dr Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere

Te ao Māori ka hāngai kia Papatūānuku me ngā aitanga kātoa, tainoa ki ngā Rangi tū hāhā. Te kōtahitanga ō ngā mea kātoa koirā te tīmatanga ō te ao Māori, Kōtahitanga ō ngā mea kātoa koirā te mūtunga ō te ao Māori ne. (The Māori world aligns with Papatūānuku and all its descendants through to the 12 heavens. The unification of everything is the beginning of the Māori world. The solidarity is the end of the Māori world.)

Waikaremoana ko au, ko au a Waikaremoana, ko te ngahere ana koira āhau, ko hau ano te ngahere ne. Pēra mātou kāore mātou e whakawēhe ana ia mātou, mai ngā aitanga, mai I a Papatūānuku, mai ngā Rāngi-tū-hāhā. Kāore e taia mātou te wehe mai kia mātou mai te kiwi, te kākā, i ēra manu. Houmai kōutou mai i ētahi wāhanga ō Papatūānuku ēngari ēnei ko tahi noho to rātou nei kāinga, ko tēnei. Nō reira taki haere kaua noho mai ki konei. Kare mātou te hia patu ia kōtou, ēngari, koira, koira kē te kainga e tika ana mo te kiwi. Mō rātou kātoa, me haere ke kōutou – weasels, stoats kōutou, haere, ēhara tēnei to kōtou kāinga. (I am Waikaremoana, Waikaremoana is me. I am the forest, the forest is me. That’s what we’re like. We don’t differentiate from our descendants Papatūānuku and the skies. We can’t separate ourselves from the kiwi, the kākā, from those birds. You came through some part of Papatūānuku, but these have only one home, and it’s this one. Therefore, leave, don’t stay here. We don’t want to attack you, but this is the right place for the kiwi, for them all. So you must all leave – weasels, stoats, get out. This is not your home.)

Dr John McLennan

We got kiwi chicks surviving here for the first time for an awful long time, and we knew it was the trapping that made a difference because we also measured chicks’ survival in places that we weren’t trapping. And we got such a brilliant response, and over – we measured it over the next 10 years. In this place, we’ve got 56% chick survival, and outside over there where there was no trapping, we got less than 10%, so that was the difference.

Dr Ocean Mercier

The trapping programme has seen a remarkable rise in the survival rates of kiwi chicks, and the trust has involved local tamariki, as the future kaitiaki, to ensure the survival of the programme. But the programme has also allowed the hapū to reconnect with the ngahere and for scientists like John to learn more about the brown kiwi and its habitat through tracking.

After the kiwi numbers in te Urewera began to plummet, the Waikaremoana Hapū Restoration Trust worked alongside Dr John McLennan and the Department of Conservation to set up a programme to restore the numbers. I te tau iwa tekau mā rua, tērā te whakatau, e toru tekau mā rua noa iho ngā kiwi ki konei e noho ana (In 1992, it was thought the kiwi population numbered only 32 in the area), but today numbers have swelled dramatically, and the tracking system used early in the programme to monitor numbers has also provided plenty of data e ana ki te kiwi parure (about the brown kiwi).   

Dr John McLennan

We’re tuned into a transmitter here that we strap onto a kiwi’s leg, and that technology became available for the first time here in about 1980. So it had been around before we started using it up here in 1992, but it made possible studies of kiwi in the wild.

Rik Winitana

Basically looking for the beep on the receiver, this aerial will pick it up, so I’ll point the aerial away, and I’ll come around until the signal gets louder and that’s where the bird should be, and he’s basically in this direction here where the aerial’s pointing.

Dr John McLennan

At the moment, we’ve got 12 transmitters on kiwi on the peninsula. That’s all we need at the moment, but during the years of the research, we had most of these guys transmitted, so at times we’ve had 50 or 60 transmitters going. All of them have their own little frequencies, so we’re not in danger of getting them mixed up.

Dr John McLennan

It’s not in its hole but that’s almost certainly been dug by a kiwi. So when they’re in these daytime shelters, they’re almost always out of arm’s reach. So that could go miles up, it could go three arm’s lengths up. When they’re in the nest, they’re always in a short burrow. If it’s in under a log like that, and it could well be, it’ll hear us coming and it will just quietly scoot off. So usually you can only ever get them with two people – one going around the top and sort of heading them off like a sheep dog. That sounds like it might be a little bit further on.

Dr John McLennan

Hello big boy, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you isn’t it, eh? This is Jess, Jess is … Jess was caught as a young female in about 2001. Her bill is long, her bill is as long as my hand, and if it was a male, it would finish about there instead of all the way down – so the females are bigger and they’ve got a longer bill, and in all kiwi, the nostrils are just tucked in under the tip there.

And the feet, these are very different from the bill. The bill is never used as a weapon but the feet are. They’re immensely powerful, and when predators attack them, they literally stand up and they karate kick them with these powerful claws, and each of those claws are about an inch long.

And very occasionally you find a kiwi that’s been killed by another kiwi. They’re very territorial, and when space is in short supply, they fight for it. And they’ve got this amazing little wing, which is right there and it finishes in a claw – so it’s got that claw at the end which is almost sort of ancient. The endearing thing about these kiwis is that, even though she’s got a very long bill, every day when she goes to sleep, she tucks her bill under that tiny little wing.

James Waiwai

Ko ngā mahi nei i roto i te ngahere, e mahi nei a mātou me Te Papa Atawhai mō te kiwi nei ko te painga mō Aotearoa kātoa, kaua ko – mō Ngāti Hinekura me te Whānau Pani anake, ēngari mō Aotearoa whānui. Mena kāore i te pai he nanakia kei roto i te wao tapu nui ō Tāne, e whakararuana i ai kāore i te pai te noho ō āku hapū me ngā whānau me ō mātou tamariki mokopuna. Mena kei te pai te noho ō te wao tapu nui ā Tāne me ōna ahuatanga kātoa me ōna kararehe me ōna manu, kei te pai te noho a o mātou tamariki, a o mātou mokopuna ō ngā hapū o kōnei. (The work we do in the forest with the Department of Conservation caring for the kiwi, the benefits are all for Aotearoa, not just for Ngāti Hinekura me te Whānau Pani but for all of Aotearoa. If it’s not good and there’s a scoundrel in the forest disturbing the kiwi, then my hapū, whānau, children and grandchildren are not happy with that situation. If the sacred forest is happy with all its surroundings, its animals, birds, then the families of our hapū here will be too.)

Dr John McLennan

And every year, volunteers in the hapū, we all get together, and we count the number of kiwi that are on this peninsula, and there are now over 50 pairs, and there are now – at any one time, there are about 50 juveniles in addition to those 50 pairs. So this place – and since for the last 3 years or so, it hasn’t grown any more, so we know we have now reached the limits. And it’s been the hapū’s work over the last 10 years that have restored this population, and this is the only place that I know of where kiwi have been dragged back from the brink of extinction, back up to the level that they used to be before stoats arrived. We now know this sort of land supports about 50 pairs, and now the whole, the whole exercise, we’re going to repeat again on the next peninsula over.

Dr Ocean Mercier

The programme developed for Lake Waikaremoana has been enormously beneficial ki ngā hōtaka whakaora kiwi puta noa i te motu (for kiwi restoration programmes around the country). The creation of a safe zone free from predators has protected the kiwi eggs, and the kiwi-proof fence has stopped juvenile kiwi leaving the mainland island. The Trust is now transferring the knowledge and hard work to another of Lake Waikaremoana’s peninsulas.  Whareama Peninsula is receiving the same treatment, and it’s expected that the kiwi population will have been restored within just 2 years.

Acknowledgements
Video courtesy of Scottie Productions.
© Scottie Productions 2013.