Queenstown kiwi off to new Nth Island home

Kiwi Birdlife Park wildlife manager Paul Kavanagh prepares to put kiwi Nyoni into a travel box for the journey to Pukaha Mt Bruce, in Wairarapa. Photo by Christina McDonald
Kiwi Birdlife Park wildlife manager Paul Kavanagh prepares to put kiwi Nyoni into a travel box for the journey to Pukaha Mt Bruce, in Wairarapa. Photo by Christina McDonald
He has called Queenstown home for 12 years but North Island brown kiwi Nyoni left the resort yesterday for a North Island sanctuary.

It is hoped Nyoni will follow the same path as another male kiwi released into the wild from the Kiwi Birdlife Park and help produce offspring.

Three and a-half years ago, the park released Wairuakiwi into the Rimutaka Forest Park and, thanks to a radio collar, Wairuakiwi is known to have become a father three times last year and another couple of times in the years before, Kiwi Birdlife Park wildlife manager Paul Kavanagh said.

Nyoni played a role in the success of female chick Tuku, when Tuku's father refused to incubate the egg.

Nyoni became the ''foster dad'' to the egg and Tuku's father came in for criticism from park staff for behaving like an immature teenager after using the egg as a pillow or footrest, instead of incubating it.

Tuku was released into the Maungataniwha Sanctuary in northern Hawkes Bay in 2012.

The Kiwi Birdlife Park had a breed-for-release philosophy and Nyoni stayed on for a longer period only because of his genetic make-up, Mr Kavanagh said.

Because many of the surviving kiwi were in controlled areas, ''you have to be careful'' about which kiwi were released into the same area, Mr Kavanagh said.

''We have to prioritise genetically important kiwi,'' he said.

Nyoni was flown from Queenstown yesterday afternoon on his way to his new home.