A group of around twenty lucky 6 and 7 year olds helped release a baby kiwi back to the wild at Opito Bay, Kerikeri, last Friday (June 15).
The North Island Brown kiwi had been nursed back to health after it was found injured in the front garden of a house at Opito Bay’s waterfront. It had been hit by a car.
The primary school children from Riverview School, Kerikeri, were able to have a good look at the young male kiwi before he was released.
Chase Mato, 6, said: “I think the kiwi is very cool. Seeing it was amazing.”
Some of the children were surprised at how the kiwi looked in real life.
Callum Judd, 7, said: “It didn't look anything like I thought it would and it was a baby not an adult.”
And Maddison Greggory, 7, wanted to cuddle it: “He had lots of feathers and was very soft.”
All the children listened intently as “Kiwi Man” Lindsay Charman from the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation introduced them to the bird, nicknamed Phantom.
He told them that some years ago there had been many more kiwi living at Opito Bay. It was usual for locals to hear 15 or 20 kiwi calling.
This little kiwi was one of their descendents and he was now well enough to go home.
Mr Charman said: “He's fit and strong again and really fighting to get back to where he belongs.
“We're going to release him and tonight he's going to again hear all his whanau calling for him.”
Phantom tucked its head under Mr Charman's chin as he explained that kiwi have nostrils on the end of their beaks to sniff out their food of grubs and bugs.
Then it was time for the release. For Sue Rowsell, who found the injured Phantom in her garden, this was a wonderful moment.
“He's twice the size of when we found him. I was working in the garden when I decided to pick a passionfruit. When I looked down I saw something curled up and motionless in the long grass.
“At first I thought it was a rat or a possum but then I realised it was a kiwi. I didn't touch it; I just called the Kiwi Foundation at Aroha Island.”
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