News | 26 October 2023
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Council puts kiwi at top of the pecking order for Bird of the Century

Every October we have the birden of selecting just one of our feathered friends to support for the Bird of the Year, but in its 100-year anniversary there was one clear winger – the kiwi.

Kiwi being held by a worker.

Whether you’re left wing or right wing you’ll enjoy a proper gander at all the eggcellent election candidates this year, as the Bird of the Year team look to celebrate the native bird that has captured our hearts the most over the last 100 years.


This year’s nationwide election marks a century of Forest & Bird speaking up for nature and supporting our native manu.


Mayor Tory Whanau is proud as a peacock for Wellington City Council to be supporting the humble kiwi, which has made a remarkable come-back in Pōneke recently.


“The success story of the Capital Kiwi Project restoring a large-scale wild kiwi population to Wellington’s backyard is something to be truly celebrated.


“The kiwi is taonga in Aotearoa, it’s on our shirts, shoulders and shields, it’s what we’re called around the world, and it’s a national icon.


“As much as the others are all worthy candidates, none have the key to our hearts like the kiwi.”


The Capital Kiwi Trust Board took out the top prize at the 2023 Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards for Wellington City in August recognising the successful release and dispersal of sixty-three kiwi around Mākara last year.


Capital Kiwi Project Founder Paul Ward says everyone should support the kiwi as it’s central to our identity and our culture.


“This project has shown that when a community steps up to take on the role of guardians they can achieve great things.


“As a collective of locals, iwi and landowners, we have worked together to manage the threat of predators across Te Upoko o Te Ika – 4,600 traps across nearly 24,000ha. As a result of this kotahitanga, kiwi are calling from the wilds of Wellington for the first time in 150 years.


“There's 63 out west now and nearly 200 more to come. It's an example of re-wilding at an epic scale that's attracted notice – from Country Calendar to CNN.


“Our commitment is to create a future where we share the land with the bird we take our name from – and we are on track to make this dream a reality. The footsteps we're now seeing in the mud of Pōneke's tracks and trails are showing us the path forward: go kiwi!”


Birds of a feather flock together, so we’re also partnering up with the awesome tima at Save the Kiwi.


Save the Kiwi Executive Director Michelle Impey says the success of kiwi numbers growing comes down to strong relationships with iwi, the Department of Conservation, community groups, local and national Government, and a lot of hard mahi.


“We joke about the job not being done until kiwi are a pest, but for us to reverse the decline all over New Zealand that really is the result we’re looking for.


“Aotearoa used to be home to millions of kiwi and now there are around 68,000. A lot of work needs to be done before kiwi are in the millions again, but we have confidence that one day soon the national kiwi population will shift from a decline into growth mode.”


Honourable mention goes to the takahē as our friends at Zealandia are teaming up with other sanctuaries to show their support for this manu as it’s 75 years since they were rediscovered.


Voting opens 9am on Monday 30 October and closes 5pm Sunday 12 November. The winner will be announced Monday 13 November.


Rank your top-five choices to decide which bird will be crowned Bird of the Century.


When you vote, you can rank up to five of your favourite birds, with number 1 indicating your favourite bird (the kiwi!), number 2 (the takahē!) indicating your second favourite bird, and so on.


Kiwi Facts & Figures


  • Kiwi are ratites. The closest relatives to today’s kiwi are the extinct elephant birds from Madagascar. They are also related to emus and cassowaries of Australia, and the extinct moa of New Zealand.
  • Kiwi can live for between 25 and 50 years. Chicks hatch fully feathered. They emerge from the nest to feed at about five days old and are never fed by their parents. Juveniles grow slowly, taking three to five years to reach adult size.
  • Today, more than 90 community and iwi-led groups actively protect kiwi over a combined area estimated to be 230,000 ha – very similar to the amount of public conservation land protected by DOC for kiwi.