OIA 19-E-0344 DOCCM - 5965044
14 June 2019
Ms Bridget Percy
[FYI request #10330 email]
Dear Ms Percy
Thank you for your Official Information Act request to the Department of
Conservation, dated 18 May 2019.
Your questions and our responses are listed below:
Kiwi Numbers & Monitoring
Official Information Act requests indicate that 148 kiwi have been brought into, or
hatched at, Pukaha Mt Bruce since 2013, but there are currently only 20-30 left
(10of which are in enclosures) and only two female kiwi produced eggs in the
Pukaha Forest this breeding season.
In 2011 Pukaha staff started removing monitoring tags from female kiwi once they
reached a certain age/weight, despite knowing that mainly adult (not juvenile) kiwi
had been predated in the Pukaha Forest up until that point. In 2016 the first kiwi
call count was held by DOC staff and an Official Information Act request in October
that year confirmed that there were only seven monitored & seven unmonitored
kiwi left in the Pukaha Forest (despite 64 kiwi having been released between 2011
and 2016, and 47 having been released previous to 2011).
In an OIA response dated 4 April 2019 Reg Kemper (Director Operations Lower
North Island and Pukaha Board member) stated 'learning how to protect kiwi in
this type of habitat with financially sustainable techniques is critical for potential
reintroduction or protection or remnant populations in this sort of area".
1. Why, in a project so beset by predator problems, are kiwi still being released
into the Pukaha Forest and why are they still having their monitoring tags
removed once they meet a target age/weight?
Kiwi raised through Operation Nest Egg (O.N.E) at Pukaha are released when
they reach adult weight. This increases the kiwi chances of survival, but there is
no guarantee that they will not be predated. This is true for all kiwi on
New Zealand’s mainland that are not held in captivity or fenced enclosures.
Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai
Lower North Island Regional Office
Private Bag 11010, Palmerston North 4442
The purpose of monitoring is described in the Department’s letter to you dated
4 April 2019.
2. Why, when it became apparent that there were just seven unmonitored kiwi in
the forest in 2016, did DOC continue to remove tags from adult kiwi when it was
so obvious they needed more monitoring, not less?
Kiwi monitoring is not used as a means to prevent predation. The purpose of
monitoring is described in the Department’s letter to you dated 4 April 2019.
3. I understand that DOC are responsible for the welfare of kiwi as described in the
Wildlife Act. Please explain how releasing so many kiwi into such a predator-
prone area with such a poor record of kiwi deaths and continuing to remove
their monitoring tags (and therefore any accountability for the many which
have died) is compliant with the Wildlife Act.
The Department supports the Pukaha Board in its efforts to establish a
population of kiwi at Pukaha. The operations at Pukaha are authorised through a
number of permits that are issued under the Wildlife Act and the Department
provides ongoing technical support to the Pukaha Board.
Your questions about releases and monitoring are addressed in question 1, and
previous correspondence dated 4 April 2019.
4. An estimated $3-4 million dollars has been spent by DOC, the Pukaha Board,
Horizons & Greater Wellington Regional Councils on predator control in the
Pukaha Forest and in the surrounding 'buffer zone' on this project since 2013 but
there are only 20-30 kiwi left from 148 bred there or introduced. Please explain
how the techniques used in this project can be considered 'financially
The Pukaha Restoration project benefits the health of the Pukaha forest and all
native flora and fauna species in it, not only kiwi.
Where the forest was previously silent, there is now an abundance of native
birdlife including kaka, kokako, kereru, tui, bellbird, whitehead, tomtit and
The restored forest is an integral part of the visitor experience at Pukaha. Visitors
to Pukaha learn about predator control and are inspired to get involved in
Additionally, the restored forest generates economic, cultural, social and
educational benefits for the local community.
Kaka Numbers & Monitoring
Media reports in October 2013 indicated that kaka numbers were booming at
Pukaha. However there have been four 1080 drops over the Pukaha Forest
since 2014 and regular visitors to the forest now note that there are just a
handful of kaka left. According to Reg Kemper, (Director Operations, Lower
North Island) these birds, like kiwi, are also no longer monitored and no formal
Kaka Census is planned.
5. Why, when it is so obvious that kaka numbers have dropped are DOC still not
monitoring kaka and why is no Kaka Census planned?
Kaka numbers at Pukaha have not decreased.
A recent newspaper article indicated that there are 80 kokako at Pukaha.
6. How was this number derived and are any of these birds monitored? If not, then
how can DOC be sure of this number?
The Department is not aware of the newspaper article quoted.
A survey conducted in 2016 estimated the population of kokako to be
approximately 30 pairs and approximately 9 singles.
If you wish to discuss this with the Department, please contact Wairarapa Operations
Manager Kathy Houkamau on 027 839 4626 or by emailing
Naku noa, na
Lower North Island
0272 4856 860 | [email address]