Five Haast Tokoeka Kiwi chick's have been welcomed to Orokonui from south Westland today.
Jannette Hope had the honour of holding and releasing one of the 5 month old kiwi's in to the nursery this afternoon. These birds are extremely rare, with only up to 400 being known to exist in the wild.
Five have been released today and another nine will arrive in a month's time. These chicks have been hand-reared after hatching in the wild of the West Coast.
The eggs are rescued as there is a less than 5% chance that they will survive in the wild against the threat of predators, mainly stoats.
Once a kiwi lays its egg, it sits on it and tends it for 39 days awaiting the hatch. They are very good at this, but once the chicks hatch, it is near impossible for the adults to protect the chicks from predators. The Haast Kiwi lay their eggs from June to January each year.
Once the chicks have grown to juveniles they will return the safe-haven islands of South Westland. These are the oldest living kiwi - living to an estimated 80 years of age.
The Orokonui Ecosanctuary "nursery" is misleading as it indicates being small and cosy, where in actual fact it is a fenced 15 hectare section, keeping the chicks in a certain area, and adult permanent resident kiwi out. Unfortunately adult kiwi are very territorial and may attack the young birds.
Tokoeka is pronounced "Toko-weka" and translates as Weka with a stick or stick-weka.
About thirty proud supporters of the Ecosanctuary were present to welcome the Tokoeka - and after a brief ceremonial handing over from West Coast maori to the local Kati te Huirapa represented by Upoko David Allison - the new arrivals were carried to their new nesting burrows.
It absolutely poured with rain as we walked to the nursery, but no-ones spirits were dampened as the surprisingly large chicks were tucked into their new burrows.
Hope and Sons, funeral directors and Dignity Funeral Services are proud supporters of the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and have now donated over $60,000 to the environmental effort of the Trust. Restful seats and benches are being placed throughout the sanctuary in memory of the many families that we have cared for.