Press Release from the Kiwi Foundation
As New Zealanders we proudly identify ourselves as Kiwis and envisage that we will forever be known internationally as Kiwis.
However the future of this identity is under threat as our national icon faces extinction in the next 20-30 years. It is a situation the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation is working desperately to reverse.
Foundation convenor Dr Greg Blunden has seen the kiwi population decline rapidly. He says their numbers have fallen from 78,000 in 1998 to 70,000 in 2004, threatening extinction.
This has prompted the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation to launch its ‘Fragile Kiwi Campaign’ to raise awareness of the issue.
“If we do not act we will be the generation responsible for losing the kiwi, this is a burden I’m sure none of us would wish to carry,” says Helen Denny of the Foundation.
The Foundation is based in Northland where there are more wild kiwi than anywhere else in New Zealand. It works to protect the brown kiwi population in Northland, estimated at 25,000.
While the Foundation has many pest control methods in place in Northland the biggest threat to kiwi survival is the domestic cat and dog. ‘Man’s best friend’ is killing our national icon with one German Shepherd killing 500 kiwi in just over one month.
The ‘Fragile Kiwi Campaign’ will encourage holidaymakers to either leave their pets at home or keep them inside over night. With the help of holidaymakers the Foundation hopes to reduce the loss of kiwi over the holiday period and encourage a permanent attitude change.
The Foundation is hosting a ‘Fragile’ Kiwi Representative Day at the Auckland Zoo (19 October). Children from Auckland and Northland schools have been invited to participate in the event aimed at educating children on the ‘fragile’ state of the kiwi and what they can do to protect it.
The New Zealand Kiwi Foundation was founded in 1999 and is based in Kerikeri. The Foundation works closely with local authorities and land owners on pest control and conservation methods. While the Foundation is based in Northland it collaborates with other kiwi conservation groups to protect the kiwi on a national scale.