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Council plan could leave kiwi homeless - 16 April 2006

Large numbers of kiwi in the Far North could become homeless unless the council addresses a loophole in its plans for the district, says the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation.

Under the current district plan there is no protection for kiwi living in habitats other than so-called “indigenous” or native bush.

Unfortunately, in the Far North District the majority of kiwi live in other habitats such as in pine forests, scrub or areas covered in weeds which include gorse, tobacco plant or pampas grass.

In fact the more overgrown and weedy a piece of land is, the better for kiwi as they can hide and feel safe in the undergrowth.

Michelle Robinson, an ecologist with the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation, says: “Kiwi don't care if the flora is native or exotic, they do well in either if given the space to roam. Kiwi also have no comprehension of human property boundaries.”

According to Michelle there isn't enough native bush left to support the population of kiwi. And unless you were to put corridors or links between what bush there is, then kiwi would be trapped in small areas. Any corridors are unlikely to be native bush.

Already large areas of kiwi habitat have been cleared indiscriminately to make way for subdivisions and “park-like” gardens and kiwi numbers in the Far North have reduced by half in the last twelve years alone.

To prevent this continuing, the Foundation is calling on the council to make a Variation of the District Plan. It is asking the council to identify “Kiwi Zones” throughout the district that take into account all kiwi habitat, not just native bush.

These zones can be supported with evidence of kiwi call data and local knowledge from the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation, Department of Conservation and local kiwi groups. These zones should become part of the district plan.

“If kiwi don't have a habitat, then they don't have a place to live,” says Michelle Robinson. “Just protecting native bush is not enough. What should be protected is not the indigenous bush but the kiwi itself and its territory, no matter what that is.”

Keep our kiwi areas pest free and pet free. Pest free + pet free = kiwi are free