Community Scoop

Kiwi Awards Shine Light on Kiwi Conservation Heroes

Press Release – Kiwis for Kiwi

Conservation leaders dedicated to saving our national icon have been recognised at the Kiwi Awards, held at the annual National Kiwi Hui in Hawkes Bay.20 June 2019
Conservation leaders dedicated to saving our national icon have been recognised at the Kiwi Awards, held at the annual National Kiwi Hui in Hawkes Bay.

The awards were created by Kiwis for kiwi, an independent charity that supports hundreds of volunteers and private landowners all over the country in their work to protect kiwi and their natural habitat.

Executive director of Kiwis for kiwi, Michelle Impey, said the awards were created to acknowledge and thank the kiwi conservation projects, organisations and individuals who have contributed significantly to kiwi conservation.

“These passionate and dedicated people are the backbone of community and iwi conservation across New Zealand. Kiwi numbers are growing in areas where work is being done to manage their habitats. That is thanks to the thousands of volunteers and community projects that continue to work towards a predator free and safe environment for kiwi. These people are fundamental to the success of the national strategy to turn the 2% decline into a 2% increase. No one can do it alone,” said Ms Impey.

The winners:

Tohu Tiketike – Kiwi Project of the Year – awarded to: Project Kiwi Trust – Paula Williams (Coromandel)
This award recognises a kiwi conservation project that has made an outstanding contribution to kiwi conservation either at a national or regional level.

Based on the Kuaotunu Peninsula in Coromandel, Project Kiwi Trust is the oldest community-led kiwi conservation project in New Zealand. It has sustained its effort over 23 years when they started trapping predators in 1996 to protect the estimated 535 kiwi they had left. The population is growing, albeit slowly. Project Kiwi continues to evolve and look for opportunities to increase the abundance of kiwi not just in its local environment, but everywhere. It helped pioneer the use of dogs to find kiwi and also trialled the first predator-proof crèche site in New Zealand. Over the years, more than 155 Operation Nest Egg chicks from Project Kiwi Trust have been released to various sites (mostly back to Kuaotunu Peninsula). The Trust is committed to sharing its knowledge and skills and is quick to role model desired values, attitudes and behaviours. Project Kiwi is a little Trust making a real difference to the national kiwi recovery effort.

Tohu Mana Tiaki – awarded to: Stella Schmid, Bay Bush Action (Opua, Northland)

This award recognises leadership in kaitiakitanga practices within conservation management that support kaupapa kiwi.
Stella grew up in the Waitangi Forest and her childhood involved not just playing in the forest but caring for it. At the age of four Stella was regularly accompanying her uncle – who worked for the then Waitangi Forestry Service – to spend her days in the forest developing a love of the natural world. From her uncle she learnt valuable lessons on how important wildlife is, especially endemic and native species.

Stella joined fellow conservationist, Brad Windust as a founding trustees of Bay Bush Action, which aims to reduce pest numbers and reintroduce species that have become extinct in the Opua Forest. With more than 2000 traps across 500 ha area in Opua Forest Stella spends most of her days in the forest co-ordinating the trap lines and managing Bay Bush Action’s forest management programme.
Stella’s unswerving passion for kiwi and the natural environment was most recently demonstrated by her leading the organisation of a hugely successful Kiwi Conservation Festival held in the Bay of Islands last December which attracted all of the conservationists in the Far North. It shone the light on conservation efforts in the region with kiwi and other native fauna and flora.

Stella was instrumental in developing Ngahere Toa, a group of children who help with trapping and learning about the forest’s ecosystem.

As well as her role with Bay Bush Action, Stella runs her own tour guiding business, where visitors from all corners of the world are taken on a guided tour through Opua Forest, to learn how Maori traditionally used the forest and the huge stress the ecosystem is under due to the introduction of foreign species. Stella has also created an education programme Te Waka Kaitiaki Whenua, where her goal is to visit all schools from the top of the north to as far as she can go…the message she shares with the children is what is happening in ours forests and how can we work together to fix it.

Stella says “Bay Bush Action Trust is not just part of my life… it is my life.”

Good Egg – Northland Brown kiwi – awarded to: Marj Cox of Mahinepua Radar Hill Landcare Group (Kaeo, Far North)
Marj joined Mahinepua Radar Hill Landcare Group very soon after it started in 2002 as Secretary. Her role is a crucial one to the success of the project. “While everyone wants to be in the field, hands-on with kiwi, there is so much paperwork to do and someone’s got to do it,” says Marj. Her role involves administration, maintaining management agreements, permits, funding applications, health and safety requirements and more. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure all documentation is done and processes are running smoothly for the eight-strong working members of the group.

Being a Far North kiwi conservation group the Mahinepua Radar Hill Landcare Group is lucky to have ‘kiwi in their back yards’ but the challenge is to keep them safe and their habitats predator free. A big part of the group’s role is trapping and helping neighbouring landowners to set up their own trap lines to create kiwi corridors, enabling the free flow of kiwi, safely. “With kiwi living across the region it’s a matter of joining the dots so they can travel beyond our own borders safely. We all need to know how to protect them,” says Marj.
Marj has put in a lot of hours over the years but she also points out that there are some other groups in the Far North that have been going longer and she believes her Good Egg Award should be shared with the rest of the local kiwi conservation community.

Good Egg – Eastern Brown kiwi – awarded to: Deb Harrington of the Save our Kaweka Kiwi Project (Hawkes Bay)
Deb has been a volunteer with the Kaweka Kiwi Project for nine years. The Project releases young kiwi into the Kaweka Ranges and monitors the birds alongside operating the Pan Pac crèche at Lake Opouahi.

It is not uncommon for Deb to do 12 hour days across rugged country managing the Project’s transmitted population of over 30 kiwi. This involves carrying out monitoring, health checks, egg collection, micro-chipping and releasing juvenile kiwi back into the Kawekas.

The biggest challenge of her job is the challenging terrain and remoteness. After a 1.5 hour drive to the forest she then embarks on a two hour walk into the park before she even starts her day. Fortunately, Deb is a seasoned tramper which has given her the level of fitness required to carry out her physically demanding job.

The Eastern Brown kiwi is only just maintaining its current population and more work needs to be done to achieve the goal of two percent growth. Increasing numbers of ferrets and wild cats have presented a constant challenge for the Kaweka Kiwi Project. Deb says “until we can nail the predator problem it will be difficult to increase kiwi numbers. Fortunately we have a great team of trappers and while neighbouring farmers and hunters are aware of the problem and helping out with trapping where they can, it’s an area we could do with more resource.”

Good Egg – Western Brown kiwi – awarded to: Sian Potier, Taranaki Kiwi Trust (Taranaki)

Sian has been working with North Island brown kiwi since 2011. In 2014 she relocated to Taranaki and has been actively involved in protecting western brown since her involvement with the Taranaki Kiwi Trust in 2016. Since then she has set up the largest kiwi monitoring project ever carried out on Mt Taranaki, where she has 50 active volunteers, 101 recorder sites and has organised listening surveys on 23 track lines around the mountain. Sian also trains people how to ‘listen’ and record their findings for listening surveys. This enables her to explore new, unknown areas in a bid to accurately record the presence of kiwi on Mt Taranaki’s difficult and dangerous terrain.

She has been tracking 20 birds on transmitter along with a group of dedicated volunteers who she has trained in telemetry gear and the newly introduced aerial tracking system which is attached to small aircraft and enables kiwis with transmitters to be checked from the sky. She is helping to explore new areas that little is known and does this by hanging out recorders and doing the analysis as well as conducting listening surveys.

Sian’s enthusiasm is contagious. She is committed to helping recover the Western kiwi population and inspire others to join her on her mission.

Good Egg – Roroa/great spotted kiwi – awarded to: Jo Halley, Paparoa Wildlife Trust (Southern Paparoa Range, West Coast)

Jo has worked tirelessly for roroa in the Southern Paparoa Range for more than a decade. Her days are spent traipsing across challenging country monitoring, carrying out transmitter changes and health checks, where the bird is weighed, measured and condition scored.

She does this work mostly on her own, in an incredibly challenging and sometimes downright inhospitable environment. “It is steep and wet and if you’re particularly unlucky the bird you are trying to catch is living in five hectares of shoulder-high blackberry bush. Roroa are a bit like roroa practitioners – they like hanging out in remote places and are getting a bit old and creaky,” said Jo.
The Paparoa Wildlife Trust is part of Operation Nest Egg and Jo will spend nights in the bush to obtain eggs that will be incubated and hatched at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. The dedicated kiwi team there care for the roroa chicks until they’re ready to go to the crèche, before being returned to a safe predator free crèche area until they become ‘stoat-proof’ at around 1400 grams and are big enough to defend themselves.

Jo has always had a deep love of New Zealand’s flora and fauna and really wanted to contribute to its conservation. She began volunteering for the Paparoa Wildlife Trust and was trained up on the job. Now as Kiwi Ranger, her days are full with managing monitoring, egg collection, data collection, reporting, transmitter changes and health checks. During her 10 plus years with the Trust she has been involved in the release of 40 birds which are now adding to the population as they pair and breed in predator-protected areas.

Roroa are quite different from the other kiwi species. They are more susceptible to stress so translocating can be challenging and the eggs and chicks require different handling and management. Their strong personalities are often described as stroppy and temperamental – not only with humans but with each other. They are very territorial and will deal to any intruders, be they stoats or humans. They are also one of the biggest species with the female averaging 3kg+ and the male 2kg.
Jo has such a passion for great spotted kiwi and a real talent and passion for passing on her knowledge in a way that really inspires the people around her. Advocacy is a large part of Jo’s role and she is happy to share her vast knowledge with two people or 200 people.

Good Egg – Tokoeka – awarded to: Sandy King, (Stewart Island)
Conservationist, Sandy King donates her time to protect Stewart Island tokoeka by carrying out kiwi avoidance training for the dogs of residents and visiting bach owners on Stewart Island.

Sandy works in conservation using a rodent detection dog to help maintain rodent-free status of islands and protected areas, monitors yellow-eyed penguin breeding success on Rakiura / Stewart Island for the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and has volunteered her time and training skills since 2013 to train dogs to not hunt or kill kiwi. Sandy says “any dog, no matter what the size or breed has the potential to kill kiwi as they have a delicate bone structure which can be easily crushed.”

Sandy has run more than 300 individual training sessions, including refresher courses, for some of the island’s dog population which she estimates at 50 to 60 dogs. “It is a great opportunity to educate dog owners about keeping our kiwi safe. While it is difficult to measure the success, Sandy says she believes it has made a difference. “To my knowledge there hasn’t been a recent kiwi death due to a dog attack.”

Kiwi Kaiako – Trainer of the Year – awarded to: Bridget Palmer, Whakatane Kiwi Project, (Whakatane)

This award acknowledges trainers throughout the kiwi conservation world. These people are critical to the ongoing success of kiwi conservation as they inspire and educate others to ensure skills are passed on to achieve best practice in conservation and animal welfare.

Bridget is passionate about the environment and saving the North Island brown kiwi. She has spent many hours up-skilling and mentoring likeminded people in best practice, taking complete conservation novices and turning them into experienced kiwi practitioners.

One of Bridget’s favourite parts of her role is working with children. She runs a programme, Halo Kaitiaki Cadets which takes local tamariki into the bush where they learn about kiwi and other native flora and fauna species, first aid training, injured bird training, planting and trapping. “This gives the children a basic knowledge of their environment and helps them become valued members of community groups, should they wish to pursue conservation. There are always a few in each group of children that want to make conservation a part of their future and we need them to carry on the work,” said Bridget.

Having worked for Department of Conservation for 17 years, Bridget has volunteered for Whakatane Kiwi Project for the last 10 years. Her role as team leader involves managing and training the team as well as being part of the operational side which sees her wandering up hill and down dale in search of kiwi chicks to ensure they are safe and well.

Kiwi usually have a territory of around 10 hectares but once they get to four or five months old some like to stretch their legs and can end up covering quite a distance. Bridget says one bird ‘Footrot’ (named after Murray Ball’s comic strip Footrot Flats) had travelled 25 kilometres across people’s back yards, roads, streams and fields but they did eventually find him.

Community corporate sponsor of the Year: Awarded to: Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd (Whirinaki, Napier)

Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd has supported Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED) with the management and maintenance of Kiwi Creche at Opouahi Scenic Reserve since 2008. With their annual contribution of $12 – $15k, every year ECOED is able to raise 20-30 kiwi chicks from Kaweka Forest Park and provide educational talks to more than 1500 children and adults to promote kiwi conservation.
The company also manages trap lines within production forests adjacent to Kaweka Forest Park to help protect kiwi in the area. Pan Pac has demonstrated a strong commitment to kiwi conservation and is the very reason why kiwi can still be found in Kaweka Forest.

Kiwi conservation image of the year: Awarded to: John Parker (Maddox Photography NZ), Te Awamutu
This year’s winning image, entitled “The kiwi release-new beginnings” was taken by John Parker at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari during a kiwi release which is part of a target to boost the Sanctuary’s kiwi population by 500 in the next five years.

John has a love of birds and specialises in photographing them in their natural habitat. He has been documenting the kiwi releases on Maungatautari Mountain on behalf of the Sanctuary team for a couple of years.

John said he wanted to capture the sense of community that is involved in a kiwi release. The photograph shows Craig Montgomerie from Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari carrying a kiwi to the release site after a powhiri and blessing, accompanied by school children, local iwi and Sanctuary staff.

“While it’s fantastic to photograph kiwi, I really wanted to show what goes on behind the scenes and the community and staff involvement that goes into raising and releasing kiwi back into the wild,” said John.

The inaugural Kiwi Awards were part of the Kiwis for kiwi annual ‘kiwi hui’ which was attended by Department of Conservation, community kiwi conservation groups, research centres and incubation and breeding facilities.

To learn more about Kiwis for kiwi visit
About Kiwis for Kiwi:
Kiwis for kiwi, a fully independent charity aims to protect kiwi and their natural habitat, ensuring the species flourish for generations to come. It allocates funds to hands-on kiwi projects, raises sponsorship dollars, increases public awareness of the plight of kiwi and works alongside kiwi experts to provide resources, advice and best practice guidance to all those working to save kiwi. In partnership with Department of Conservation, Kiwis for kiwi support the national Kiwi Recovery Programme. For more information:


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