What's happening to our kiwi? An update from the field...

Friday 10 April 2015, 3:32PM
By Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

A recent brown kiwi survey by local environmental management students has revealed that the kiwi population on Mount Taranaki is fragmented and in need of continued protection.

Led by Bay of Plenty Polytechnic tutor and environmental consultant Patrick Stewart, the Polytechnic students spent four days based at listening stations on Mount Taranaki. Listening for male and female kiwi calls, the students collected crucial data on how many kiwi were in a 1,800ha area. What they found was one pair of kiwi per 125 to 250ha – much less than the ideal of one pair per 30ha.

The locations of the kiwi calls were then plotted by compass and the report circulated to interested parties in the Taranaki area.

“The students’ work has provided new information for DOC [Department of Conservation] and the Taranaki Kiwi Trust,” says Patrick. “As with other populations around New Zealand there is still more protection work to be done in this area.”

The Polytechnic’s environmental management students have a history of discovering invaluable information across large areas of inaccessible landscape while on field trips. In 2011 they discovered a new population of the critically endangered South Island long-tailed bat. This ‘microbat’ (which can fit into the palm of your hand) is now being monitored by DOC.

While students on Diploma in Environmental Management complete field work all over New Zealand (including Ohakune, Fiordland and the Coromandel) they don’t have to be super athletes or Bear Grylls to complete the course.

“Sometimes it’s a lot of walking, but not always. We’re not an outdoor pursuit centre – we try to match activity challenge to individual competency.

“With this sort of applied ecology, students are well-equipped to do field work when they enter the workforce,” continues Patrick. “They know how to use equipment and how to get around effectively. They can think on their feet, solving any issues that arise.”

The type of student on this course varies greatly – from ex-military to chefs looking for a career change.

“Often our students are people who want to do something different with their lives. It depends on their background but some want to get away from a desk job and others want to do something more meaningful – or both.”

The next intake for the Diploma in Environmental Management is 28 April 2015.

For more information about the work being done with New Zealand’s Kiwi visit https://www.kiwisforkiwi.org/