In early February the Zoo’s senior lead bird keeper Natalie Clark travelled down to Te Mata to meet up with Save the Kiwi rep and Thames Coast Kiwi Care volunteer Neil John to visit the burrow of male kiwi Ngāwari' – in the hopes of collecting up to two kiwi eggs.

Eggs are collected as part of the successful Operation Nest Egg (ONE) programme with the Department of Conservation, Save the Kiwi and regional conservation partners like the Zoo, to give these precious taonga a safe and positive head start to life.

Once at the burrow site, Neil carefully reached in and safely retrieved one egg ahead of bringing out Ngāwari for he and Natalie to perform a routine health check on him, which also enabled one further check of the burrow. Feeling something a little wet, Neil reached in to discover, to his and Natalie’s delight, a newly hatched kiwi chick!

Natalie explains the chick would have hatched sometime in the middle of the night. In good health, it was quickly checked and placed in a portable incubator for its road trip back to Auckland. The egg was also placed in a portable temperature-controlled incubator – with heating to provide the same environmental conditions as dad sitting on the egg.

This is just the second season for Ngāwari', who this season has already fathered two clutches of two eggs and is proving himself to be an exemplary dad.

“Ngāwari' is himself an ONE bird that I was involved in caring for when he hatched at the Zoo back in October 2014 ahead of being released for a period onto Rotoroa Island, so it’s incredibly special to see that he’s thrived since being released back here in Te Mata,” says Natalie.

This weekend, this chick that hatched in Ngāwari' care will be released onto predator-free Rotoroa Island NZ. It will stay here until it grows big and strong and more able to defend itself from introduced predators at which time it can return to its birthplace, Te Mata.

Like all ONE kiwi eggs that come to Auckland Zoo, once Ngāwari’s egg hatches in a few weeks’ time, it will be cared for by our specialist bird keepers until it reaches the right weight to also be released onto Rotoroa Island.

A community effort for kiwi

Te Mata’s kiwi area encompasses a 2,500ha block of private and Department of Conservation land. It is here that the amazing volunteers of Thames Coast Kiwi Care (TCKC) - of which Neil is also a member - do the incredible job of intensively trapping and monitoring to help keep this area as safe as possible for kiwi.

Without these collective conservation efforts for young kiwi, only 5% of kiwi chicks would reach breeding age in the wild. You support this important Wild Work by the Zoo every time you donate to or visit us – ka pai!