Episode 18: Two in the Bush
On the next episode screening June 14th 2014 at 7pm on TV ONE
After three hours of pushing through thick undergrowth hunting elusive brown kiwi, you can understand Gill Adshead letting out a screech of delight when she finally nabs the first catch of the day.
"Oh he's beautiful," Gill whispers as she pulls the tiny bird feet first from its hiding place. "This is so awesome."
The young kiwi, called Twisty, is one of 34 birds that Gill and Kevin Adshead have released onto their farm on the edge of the Kaipara Harbour in Northland.
Over the last year, the couple has tracked and traced kiwi all over their property. "We know a lot about these birds," says Kevin. "It's fun following these amazing animals."
The Adsheads wanted to protect 200 hectares of coastal native bush on Gill's family farm and eight years ago locked stock out.
"Things had got out of control," says Gill. "Possums were running around in the middle of the day. The Pohutakawa were skeletons - there wasn't a leaf on them. It was shocking.
"Once we started killing predators, the bush and the birdlife came back."
With predator numbers under control, the farm qualified as a breeding sanctuary for kiwi. Five birds were released a year ago and a further 29 have been relocated to the Kaipara in recent months.
They were all caught on Motuora Island in the Hauraki Gulf.
The kiwi have transmitters strapped to their legs. They can travel large distances and it's hoped the shelter-belt the Adshead's have erected around their property will stop them venturing outside the farm gate.
Gill and Kevin are working alongside the Department of Conservation to ensure the kiwi have the best possible opportunity to breed on their farm.
Since the transfer from Motoura Island, they have already witnessed the birth of one kiwi chick.
Gill's family has farmed at Glorit, on the shore of the Kaiapara Harbour, for six generations. Kevin and Gill managed the property for 25 years before spending 18 months working for Volunteer Service Abroad in the Solomon Islands.
When they returned home, they built an off-grid hideaway on the family property and handed over day-to-day running of the farm to daughter Jenny and son-in-law Shane Hood. They younger couple lease 400 hectares of the farm.
With the kiwi well settled into their new home, Kevin and Gill plan to carry on their conservation work and educate young people about the birds they are nurturing.
Many school students have already helped named the kiwi and follow the birds' progress online.
"The next generation is the key to the kiwi's survival," says Gill. "If our young people learn how to protect and respect these wonderful birds, then it could be possible to have kiwi in every backyard in the country."
For more information about the Mataia Restoration Project:
For more information about the Mataia Homestead and Farm walks
For information about Volunteer Service Abroad:
Te Rurehe Paki
Post Production Manager