Photo Credit: Tom Lynch

The kiwi has become so widely recognised as a symbol of New Zealand but what would the category be without highlighting the Kiwi and it's unique contribution to the forest and landscape of Aotearoa.

North Island Kiwi - Kiwi-nui

The Kiwi is a nocturnal bird frequenting the dense dark recesses of the forest where the soft ground and rotting leaves enable it to probe its long beak in search of worms, large grubs and their larvae. The kiwi nests in holes beneath the roots of trees or in steep banks in the forest. One egg is usual, but frequently two are laid. The size of the egg is approximately 5 1/4 inches by 3 1/8 inches, truly remarkable for a bird no larger that a domestic fowl.

North Island Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)

Standing about 12 inches in height and plumage that is largely dark reddish brown streaked with black, long pale bill, short dark legs and toes often with dark claws.  They have a similar feather colouration to the weka.  

Roroa - Large Grey Kiwi/Great Spotted Kiwi
Tokoeka - South Island Kiwi

 Tokoeka - South Island Kiwi (Apteryx australis) (Apteryx lawryi)

Larger and more robust than the North Island species but similar in appearance, colour and habits with rufous plumage. Found to the west of the southern alps and at Stewart Island. The A.lawryi feathers are streaked lengthwise with reddish brown.

Roroa - Large Grey Kiwi/Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii)

Almost as large as Tokoeka but is greyish brown, mottled and cross banded with brownish black.  Found in the western portion of the South Island, from Tasman Bay to Fouveaux Strait.

Kiwi Pukupuku/ - Little Grey Kiwi/Little Spotted Kiwi  (Apteryx owenii)  

Named by Māori for their round bellied appearance, they are the smallest of the five kiwi species, yellowish grey, mottled and irregularly cross banded with blackish brown.  

Kiwi Pukupuku - Little Spotted Kiwi

Highly regarded as a special bird,  Māori knew it fondly as "Te manu huna a Tāne", the hidden bird of Tāne.  Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloaks) were originally made by sewing kiwi skins together and were usually reserved for rangatira or those of high status.  Kiwi feathers woven today into flax cloaks are still highly valued.  

Kiwi played an important role in the lives of our people.  We hunted for them, preserved and ate them and now due to introduced threats to the population of kiwi, our conservation efforts are focused on preserving the future of the kiwi.

The kiwi is unique and rare but highly valued for it's selfless sacrifice for the betterment of the forest as a whole becoming the most beloved bird of Tāne. This is why everyone joining MLI receives a kiwi badge as their very first achievement.

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Monday, 15 July 2024

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