A small number of wild Northland brown kiwi live and roam in the Kiwi Link area. 


We aim to increase their numbers, chance of survival and breeding success by controlling exotic animal pests (predators such as ferrets, stoats and feral cats) and encouraging dedicated dog control. Without predator control, 95% of kiwi chicks are killed by stoats before they reach their first birthday.


In Northland, the greatest cause of adult kiwi death is dogs, whom seem to find the strong scent of this ground dwelling bird, almost irresistible. Northland brown kiwi should live for 50-60 years. However, research has shown that due to dog predation, their average lifespan has been reduced to just 14 years.


Kiwi Link’s key aim is to create a safe kiwi corridor between the kiwi strongholds of Whangarei Heads and Tutukaka. We work closely with Kiwi Coast and neighbouring community-led projects to do this, including the Tutukaka Landcare Coalition and Backyard Kiwi at Whangarei Heads. Most of our wild kiwi are free to roam and never handled. However, to monitor progress,  a small number of kiwi wear leg-fitted radio transmitters that send out data to help us remotely track survival, breeding success and dispersal. 


Meet two of the monitored kiwi – Chookie and Fetu Mama….


Chookie is the namesake of a local landowner whose family has gone above and beyond to protect local kiwi.

A young, Northland brown male kiwi, Chookie has chosen a dog-free pine forest in Owhiwa as his home. Wild kiwi are slowly returning to this area, east of the Whangarei township, thanks to increased community-led pest control and dedicated dog ownership.

Chookie made headlines when he hatched his first chick in 2021 – the first known wild-hatched kiwi chick in the area for decades. In 2022, he did it again, successfully hatching another two chicks.

The mystery is – who is Chookie’s mate? Is she one of the scarce wild kiwi that has hung on in the area for a long, lonely time? Is she a kiwi on the move from the nearby Whangarei Heads peninsula where kiwi number in their thousands? Or is she a recently released old friend of Chookie’s from the Matakohe-Limestone Island kiwi creche?

You can become a kiwi sponsor and follow the life and adventures of Chookie by signing up to the Kiwi Coast Follow a Kiwi’ Program. As a Follow the Kiwi Sponsor you will receive news, updates, photos and event invites FIRST!


Chookie at one of his six monthly health checks with accredited kiwi handler, Todd Hamilton.
Fetu Mama on her release day with Todd Hamilton, March 2023
Fetu Mama with Kerry Martin, Aug 2023. Photo Todd Hamilton
Tracking Fetu Mama! | Click To Enlarge
Todd tracking Fetu Mama in Maungatika

Fetu Mama

Fetu Mama was transferred as a chick to the Matakohe Limestone Island kiwi creche in the Whangarei Harbour.  She was found again by Lesley and her certified Kiwi Conservation Dog,  Yagi, on January 26, 2023.
A health check showed she had reached 1800g in weight and was ready to graduate from the island. Her bill was also measured and found to be 105.3mm. A health check showed she had reached 1800g in weight and was ready to graduate from the island. Her bill was also measured and found to be 105.3mm.
At this stage we were not sure if she was a young female or older male. Adult male kiwi have shorter bills than adult females and this is the main way that kiwi are determined to be male or female. In the meantime, we put a small radio transmitter on her leg to keep in touch with her in preparation for her eventual  transfer to Parua Bay.
Her big day arrived on March 3, 2023 and she was transferred back to the mainland where the Northland Pacific Island Charitable Trust (Fale Pasifika) were given the honour of naming her by the Friends of Matakohe Limestone Island and Te Parawhau.

That evening, she went on to star at the Backyard Kiwi release event at Parua Bay with three of her fellow creche graduates.

As part of the release, she was remeasured and found to be 1800g in weight. Her bill had grown to 109.3mm, letting us know that she was  still growing.
Shaun Robinson of Backyard Kiwi had the honour of releasing her at the Martins’ Owhiwa Road block, within the Kiwi Link project area. As a dog free, predator trapped property that has also had a controlled ground based 1080 pulse, this is a very safe place to release kiwi.
Fetu Mama then spent the next five months exploring the Martins’ pine block at the start of Owhiwa Road – including up by the road itself then eastwards to  a valley of pampas and young pines on the Taraunui Road side where we caught up with her in August. She was close to the female kiwi ‘Maia’ and the young male ‘Humphries’ who also have radio transmitters on.  She was in good condition and had grown to 2200g and had a bill of 122.7mm confirming that she was definitely a she!
 We lost contact with her after that. Kerry and I did big searches listening out for her radio signal both near and wide.  We got a couple of weak signals that seemed to be coming from the bush  towards Taraunui Road but couldn’t get a good fix.  When I was way over at Campbell Road I picked up a weak signal in a north-west direction.  A day later after hunting the signal down towards Tarauni Road then the end of Owhiwa Road and then progressively NW until I found her beside Mt Tiger road in the NE corner of the Maungatika Scenic Reserve.

By road, this is an 8km journey from her last known spot but a much bigger journey if you take all the hills, valleys, creeks and ridges into account.

The theory is that she stayed near her release area for 5 months because there were other kiwi nearby calling – she mustn’t have found any to her liking to pair up with as she reaches adulthood and has struck out in search of a mate. If she  finds a boy calling and sets up home they will be producing kiwi chicks for the next 50 years!