Last week I visited the coast for the annual rowi return. This is the part of the year rowi rangers love best, when they get to bring the healthy young kiwi back home to Okarito forest.
Smitha and daughter Gauri release rowi 'Dilly' into her new burrow in north Okarito forest.
Amongst the 15 birds being released were the two rowi named last year by Lynda and Jools Topp – ‘Pongo’ and ‘Dilly’. The Topp Twins wished their kiwi luck saying “Do us proud girls – go find yourselves a nice Kiwi bloke and multiply!”
I joined rowi team leader Duncan Kay to release Jools and Lynda’s birds.
Gauri meets her first kiwi (Pongo).
Scenic Hotel Group has recently come on board to help BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust support the Rowi Project. Randhir from Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef, his wife Smitha and daughter Gauri (2 years) also came on the release to see their first rowi and help Duncan and I.
Randhir and daughter Gauri help rowi ranger Duncan Kay release
The 15 rowi eggs were removed from the Okarito forest to protect them from predators – stoats and other introduced pets as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg. The kiwi were hatched at both the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch and have been raised to maturity on predator-free Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on them now they are back in Okarito Kiwi Zone.
For the past five weeks all the children in Room 2 from ages 7 to 13 at Franz Josef Glacier School have been lucky enough to experience being a Junior Kiwi Ranger at the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
We all got to work with both rowi and Haast tokoeka kiwi chicks from the time they were incubating in their eggs to them hatching and being really, really cute!!
Yummy kiwi chick food!
We had to be at the Wildlife Centre at 8 am. Bridget, Fiona and Kim took us down to the Kiwi brooding area and we helped to prepare the kiwis’ food. It was a delicious assortment of ox heart, cat biscuits, veges and fruit…..YUM!
We placed the food in all of the kiwis’ dishes in the nocturnal house and spread meal worms around the enclosure for them to find during the day.
Ryan gets to stroke a kiwi chick.
After that we went and saw all the kiwi eggs and newly hatched chicks. We cleaned out their water bowls, checked their food, turned the soil over and weighed each kiwi chick.
Faith and Carlos had to hand-feed Don, a Haast tokoeka chick, because he didn’t know how to eat properly, and he had an infection in his eye, that the Kiwi rangers were monitoring.
Stasi and Pheonix watched Kohunga being micro-chipped, so that he could be identified when he was released into the wild.
After the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup, Ryan and Ella met WebbEllis, and watched the Kiwi Rangers put cream on his belly button.
Ryan and Ella with 'Earl'.
This is our last week working with the Kiwi Rangers this year and we would like to thank them for letting us come and experience how important their jobs are to help saving our very special national bird! Also it was awesome that we didn’t get back to school until after 10 o’clock, which meant we did not have to do maths!!
This week we also heard that our name was chosen for the newly hatched Haast tokoeka chick, we are very proud to name him TUMEKE, which means awesome in Maori!!
Kiwi Ranger Bridget with Tumeke and her helpers.