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Pukaha Mount Bruce has always been a popular destination for nature lovers. Now since the arrival of Manukura, the little white kiwi, it’s positively booming.
Lured by the chance to see New Zealand’s only white kiwi in captivity, I head to the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre which straddles the bush clad covered hills nestled between the Wairarapa and Tararua regions.
It’s a place where you can experience endangered wildlife up close and in the wild and see what is being done to save kiwi, tuatara, kokako, kaka and return them to our forest.
Even though I’ve been before, this time was all about seeing Manukura, the 13th of 14 kiwis successfully hatched at Mount Bruce during one breeding season, by far the most successful since 2003 when kiwi were reintroduced into the wild there.
The chick’s arrival captured the world’s media attention and that of hundreds of lucky visitors who visited Manukura two days before he graduated from the Centre’s recently refurbished kiwi house nursery to an outdoor enclosure in the forest reserve.
After first catching a glimpse of Manukura in the darkened Kiwi House, the chick is brought into view by Darren Page, DOC’s Captive Breeding Ranger at Pukaha Mount Bruce.
Manukura is tiny poppet of a thing and every adjective ever used to describe cute is buzzing around my head.
Curious little eyes are surrounded by a plume of white feathers that create a halo affect and I understand then and there why the local iwi Rangitane o Wairarapa saw the white chick as a ‘tohu’ or ‘sign’ of new beginnings.
Held in Darren’s protective hands and fed a nutritious meal, Manukura seems comfortable and relaxed – oblivious to the dozens of visitors, including 100 local primary school children, which sneak a peak as they walk past the nursery window.
After a short time Manukura is carefully put into a darkened holding pen to sleep while Darren brings out another of the new chicks hatched this breeding season – this time a brown kiwi.
Like his white counterpart the chick is a bundle of fluff and given a feed of rich pickings.
During this time I learn that Darren has spent a lot of his working life in pursuit of kiwi preservation.
When he talks, his speech is peppered with interesting kiwi facts like Manukura is not an albino but the rare progeny of kiwi that were transferred to Pukaha from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island last year.
He also smiles a lot at the school children and patiently answers all their questions even those that are unrelated. He seems at ease with the kiwi chicks and – more importantly they seemed at ease with him.
Seeing Manukura is surprisingly, a poignant experience. His fragility is evident, as with any new born, but under Darren’s paternal guidance I am left confident the chick will thrive.
- Manukura is now on view in the Kiwi House.
- Become a friend of Manukura on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Manukura-Little-White-Kiwi/218964361454747
- Brown Kiwi chicks hatched in captivity can be seen in the kiwi nursery during the breeding season
For more information on Pukaha Mount Bruce visit www.pukaha.org.nz, phone 06 375 8004 or email: email@example.com
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