Sponsor a Kiwilogo Rimutaka Forest Park Trust

2009 News

Here's where we have archived our updates and press releases about the Trust's activities, achievements and special announcements during 2009.

(To view the Top Stories for 2010, 2008, or 2007, click here...)

Top Stories

Another Kiwi Project Milestone!

Sunday, 8th November, 2009

Today we implemented a decision made at a recent Kiwi Project meeting, where we resolved to begin removing the transmitters on some of the adult female kiwi introduced to the Park over the past few years.

Since the arrival of 20 additional adult kiwi from Little Barrier Island earlier this year and with our rapidly growing population of juveniles being returned to the Park following O.N.E. operations last year, it has become a huge effort to track them all as, until now, every bird, whether male or female, has had its own transmitter. And now, with many more kiwis incubating their first clutch of eggs for the season, the problem of tracking them all is just going to get bigger!

So despite the enthusiasm and willingness of our kiwi tracking team, something had to give!

Since it is the kiwi males which incubate the eggs, it makes sense for us simply to monitor their activities closely, as that will tell us when they are incubating or when chicks have hatched in their burrows. That way we can still monitor the growth of our North Island Brown Kiwi population.

Manaia was one of the founders of our kiwi population, back in May 2006. She has since produced many eggs and chicks. So it was fitting that she had been chosen to lead the way again!

Here's hoping she lives to a ripe old age surrounded by her many children, grandchildren and perhaps even great grandchildren!

Schoolchildren with painted eggs collected to aid our stoat trapping efforts
Cheyanne McIvor and Porscha Cowden from Fernlea School with their painted eggs. Photo Credit: Melody McLaughlin

Painted egg kills stoat for Conservation Week?

10 September 2009

Let us explain .....!
Members of the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust will be visiting schools in Wainuiomata and the Hutt Valley over the next couple of weeks to collect eggs for Conservation Week.

Eggs are used in traps that kill stoats (to tempt them in) - and eggs are getting more and more expensive. The Trust has nearly 500 traps in the Rimutaka Forest Park that are used to keep the kiwi there safe from predation, these traps need to be rebaited with new eggs every month - leading to some pretty significant costs. So, the Trust is asking kids to bring in an egg for Conservation Week; it's a small thing for them to do, will mean they get to learn all about kiwi and predator control, the kids get to paint and decorate the eggs (just for a bit of fun) - and the Trust gets a good supply of eggs to keep controlling the stoats.

A schedule of visits is below. If you'd like to come along with us and get more information and some pretty cool shots of kids getting involved in Conservation - please let Melody McLaughlin know on (04) 564 6213 or 027 452 4982.

Friday 11th – Pukeatua Primary school at 12pm and St Claudines at 1.30pm - Wainuiomata
Monday 14th – Arakura school at 9am, Wainuiomata Intermediate 11am
Friday 18th – Christian College – younger classes only 1.30pm - Wainuiomata
Monday 21st – Rata Street School at 9am - Lower Hutt.
Thursday 17th – collecting eggs from the schools except those being visited on the Friday 18th and Monday 21st.

Stoat Trappers' Ball

September, 2009

This year's Stoat Trappers' Ball kicks off at 7.30pm on Saturday, 26th of September. (Check out the photos of the fun had by attendees last year here...)

The Stoat Trappers' Ball is a hilarious fund-raiser for our Rimutaka Forest Park Trust Kiwi Project and ongoing Pest Control programmes. It is guaranteed to be more fun than having a ferret up your trouser legs!

Venue: Wainuiomata RSA - Burden Ave. Wainuiomata
Date: Saturday, 26th September, 2009
7.30pm to Midnight
Band: The Jimmies
Cost:  Adults $30, Children under 16 $15 (Under 5 free)
Dress Code: Feral to Formal - or Bush to Glam...
Hot Supper Included...

Stoat Trappers' Ball Tickets are available from the following locations:

This year will probably be a sell-out, so be quick! Order your tickets now!

And now there are 31...

August, 2009

Two kiwi chicks were blessed at the local marae and released into the Rimutaka Forest Park on Wednesday, 5th August, 2009. Both were returned to the Park after being removed as eggs under BNZ Save The Kiwi Operation Nest Egg protocols late last year. This brings the number of kiwi released into the Park this year alone to 24.

Several other chicks are still to be repatriated to the Park and at least 5 of our kiwi boys are incubating again this year at present!

Kiwi Translocation

April, 2009: - Two years' of meticulous planning - and two weeks' of exacting execution over Easter - paid off for the Kiwi Project members of the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust.

Twenty live adult North Island Brown Kiwi were successfully translocated from Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf to the Rimutaka Forest Park, just east of Wellington, New Zealand.

Following comprehensive health checks and a blessing ceremony at the Wainuiomata Marae, these precious birds were released into temporary burrows in the Rimutaka Forest Park, close to our existing Kiwi population. Within an hour or so of their release, their distinctive calls could be heard across the valleys!

Their number and genetic diversity will contribute enormously towards our ultimate goal of creating a self-sustaining population of North Island Brown Kiwi in the Greater Wellington region. (More...)

Our Heroes: - So many people to thank!

Paul Walsh from Air New Zealand  
Anne Manchester with Colin the Kiwi just prior to his release in the Rimutaka Forest park

Anne Manchester is shown here with the kiwi she named "Colin" - after the late Eastbourne sculptor, Colin Webster-Watson. Anne has sponsored the kiwi chick for its first couple of years now that it has been returned to the Park where it originated.
(Photo Credit: Sandy Lang)

A Kiwi Called Colin

March 20th, 2009: - He used to be called RFP3. Now renamed Colin -- after the late Eastbourne resident and sculptor Colin Webster-Watson -- the 17-month-old North Island Brown Kiwi was released into the Rimutaka Forest Park, Wainuiomata, earlier this month (March 20), not far from the burrow where he was laid as an egg.

For Webster-Watson’s niece Anne Manchester, having the opportunity to meet Colin before his release was a very special moment. “I have been able to support the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust’s Kiwi project through my uncle’s estate. This gave me the right to name one of the juvenile chicks being released and to be photographed with him before he begins his adult life in the park. I am sure my uncle would thoroughly approve my choice of name.” 

Nine fully-grown kiwi have been introduced into the forest park since 2006, brought there from various kiwi houses around the country. Since that time, three pairs of birds have produced ten live chicks over three breeding seasons. However, all were removed as around 60-day-old eggs by trust volunteers and taken to Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre in the Wairarapa for incubating, hatching and rearing. Some were later moved to Bushy Park Forest Reserve in Wanganui for rearing. This ensures their best chance of survival, as young chicks are particularly vulnerable to predators like stoats. They are reintroduced to the Park once they have reached 1200 grams in weight. The trust’s aim is to establish a viable, self-sustaining kiwi population in a 2500-hectare, predator-controlled site in the Park.

“Colin’s release is very significant to us,” said volunteer Robin Toy. “If he survives, and he should as he is healthy and well over a kilo in weight, he will be the first kiwi in living memory from a Rimutaka-laid egg to grow up and hopefully breed one day too. Once juvenile kiwi are over 1200 grams, they can defend themselves against stoats, which are our main concern.”

Colin was placed in a man-made burrow high up in the Park for his first night and will be monitored closely over the next few weeks and months with the aid of a transmitter attached to the upper part of his leg. With a range of one kilometre, the transmitters are able to tell the volunteers whether the birds are alive or dead, how long they have been out over night and whether they are incubating.

About 16 more kiwi are due to be introduced into Rimutaka Forest Park on April 18. They will be selected from a population on Little Barrier Island and brought down to Wellington by helicopter and an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland. Following a blessing on the Wainuiomata Community Marae, they will be carried into the park to join Colin and the others, marking another major milestone in the work of the Trust’s kiwi project.

Megalopsalis: A photo of a Harvestman, or Opiliones, taken in the Rimutaka Forest Park, by Kevin Alekna. Click for a larger image.

The Megalopsalis - also known as a "Daddy-Long-Legs" or "Harvestman" - is a type of Opiliones. This photo was taken in the Rimutaka Forest Park, by Kevin Alekna. (Click for a larger image)

Believe it or not, this picture is not actually one of a spider, but of a closely related group, Opiliones - commonly named "Harvestmen". The easiest way to distinguish this group from spiders is to check out the abdomen. In spiders, it is possible to see the segmental divisions. The segments are all fused together in Opiliones; the divisions have been obliterated.

This specimen is probably a Megalopsalis, says Leonie Clunie, of Landcare Research, who helped one of our RFPT members, Kevin Alekna, to identify his remarkable find. Adult males have extremely long legs in comparison to their 5 - 7mm body length - up to 16 centimetres in leg-span, in fact!

The males have distinctive and very long chelicerae at the front; thought to be used in their mating behaviour.

For more information about Opiliones and Palpatores, please check out this link:


Trust mourns the loss of Bill McCabe

 Bill McCabe (QSM) about to deploy some stoat traps in the Rimutaka Forest Park in 2003

Bill McCabe (QSM) is shown deploying stoat traps in the Rimutaka Forest Park as part of our Kiwi Project during 2003. The success of the subsequent trapping efforts led to the reintroduction of Kiwi into the Rimutaka Range in May, 2006. (Photo credit: Susan Ellis)

March, 2009: - Rimutaka Forest Park Trust founding member and Chairman, William James McCabe (Bill McCabe) died on the 14th of March.  He is already hugely missed by members and volunteers of the Trust. For more than 20 years, Bill worked tirelessly on bringing about the aims and objectives of the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust. He was involved at every level of engagement with the Trust's activities, from executive leadership of the Committee, to pitching in with fellow volunteers distributing and checking pest control traps and putting up signs and providing visitor facilities throughout the Park.

A large crowd turned out at the memorial service for Bill held at the Wainuiomata Fire Station on Wednesday for a moving farewell and pleasantly musical celebration of Bill's life, and accomplishments. It was held at the fire station because of Bill's association with the Wainuiomata Volunteer Bush Fire Force since 1970, when he was the driving force behind its creation.

On a national scale, he contributed hugely to the Forest & Rural Fire Association of NZ, and was a former County Town Committee Member and councillor representing the people of Wainuiomata before it was amalgamated into Hutt City Council. Bill McCabe was also a foundation member of the Wainuiomata Choir and was behind the "Tomorrow's Trees" initiative in the valley. He is survived by his wife, Margaret and son, Robert and daughter, Fiona.

The Big Back Yard

22nd November - 2009
11.00am to 3.00pm
Lower Hutt i-SITE
25 Liangs Road,
Lower Hutt

Come and see the Trust's display and kiwi tracking demonstrations at this wonderful annual event attended by so many of our regional outdoors partners and associates. For more information, please visit this link.

2009 Stoat Trappers' Ball

Kiwi chick learning how to eat - Ahh! What bliss! Click for a larger image.

Aahhh! Bliss!!! Rimutaka Forest Park kiwi chick, RFP7, is shown here soon after being given some tasty morsels to eat. The newly-hatched chick appears to be enjoying the sensation of tasting solid food for the first time. (Click for a larger image.)

Now that he has grown considerably larger, RFP7 has returned to Pukaha Mt. Bruce from the crèche at Bushy Park, near Wanganui. He is learning to forage for himself and is putting on additional weight so that he can be safely released back into the Rimutaka Forest Park sometime later on this year.
Photos credit: Darren Page & the DoC Kiwi Recovery Team at Pukaha Mt. Bruce Wildlife Centre

Candling kiwi eggs is a delicate art allowing us to determine the viability and developmental stage of unhatched kiwi eggs

The delicate art of "candling" eggs takes on interesting dimensions when kiwi eggs are involved! They are so much bigger than most birds' eggs, especially when taking into consideration the size of the bird! Unfortunately, this particular egg was not viable, but two others recovered recently were, resulting in the successful hatching of two beautiful Kiwi chicks.
(Photo credit: Melody McLaughlin)