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120th kiwi chick hatched at Pūkaha

The team at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre are celebrating the arrival of another kiwi chick to parents Mapuna and Manawa.

MB120 hatched about six days ago and marked the 120th kiwi chick to be born at the facility. He was born rocking the same tuft of white feathers on his head as his older sibling – who hatched at Christmas – Rangiura.

Ranger Tara Swan was excited for the newest addition to Pūkaha and described how MB120 had not only been born with a tuft of white on his head but also a patch on his belly.

In New Zealand, there are five species of kiwi with conservation statuses ranging from ‘recovering’ to ‘nationally critical,’ but even those considered to be recovering depend on proactive conservation efforts.

Swan said the birth of three kiwi chicks since October last year bodes well for the future of kiwi birds, especially at Pūkaha.

“They’re actually doing really, really well,” Swan said of the increased breeding numbers.

“They’ve been really good this year. Obviously, the odd egg’s infertile, but this time they’ve all been fertile,” Swan said.

She noted that Pūkaha has “ramped up” its predator controls in the Pūkaha forest to protect kiwi born at the facility.

“We aim to breed for release, so everybody will be released into the forest at some point,” she said.

When breeding, female kiwi lay the eggs, and the male sits on them for about 80 days.

Swan said there are quite a few kiwis being monitored in the forest, with MB120’s big brother – who was released into the forest last year – currently sitting on an egg.

Rangers are currently unsure if the egg is fertile as they haven’t been able to check, but if it proves to be fertile, then another chick could be expected in February – with another fertile egg set to hatch in late March.

The newest member of the Pūkaha whānau will be named by Rangitāne in the coming weeks.

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