Meridian supports mouse eradication and kiwi release on Rona Island, Lake Manapōuri

Meridian, the Department of Conservation and the Pomona Island Charitable Trust had the privilege of releasing 5 Haast tokoeka kiwi chicks on to Rona Island in Lake Manapōuri.

Kiwis Rona Island 1

Since 2008, Rona Island has been a kiwi sanctuary managed by Pomona Island Charitable Trust, but mice re-invaded the island and by 2014 mice were competing for food with the kiwi chicks.

“Expert advice was that no more Haast tokoeka chicks should be put on Rona until some form of mouse control was in place,” says Trust secretary Viv Shaw. After extensive research the Trust opted to control the mice using ground-based methods.

Meridian stepped in to help fund a network of 460 bait stations through its Manapōuri Community Fund. The aim was to control mice on Rona to very low numbers so it could continue to be used as a crèche site for the Haast tokoeka, one of New Zealand's most endangered kiwi species. “The mouse control work on Rona has been very successful with mice on the island at undetectable levels,” says Viv. "Kiwi can now once again be released onto Rona Island.”

Department of Conservation Ranger Sian Reynolds says the Rona Island sanctuary is really important. “Without predator-free creche sites we would struggle to increase the number of this critically endangered species. It is community efforts like the Pomona Island Charitable Trust that is really helping to save our national icon.”

Kiwis Rona Island 2

Rona Island plays such an important role in the kiwi breeding programme, says Mat Bayliss, chair of Meridian’s Manapōuri Community Fund. “It was vital to rid the island of mice as quickly as possible. Meridian is excited about the success of the eradication project and release of the kiwi chicks back on the Island.”

Photos are courtesy of the Pomona Island Charitable Trust and show Sian Reynolds from the Department of Conservation, members of the Pomona Island Charitable Trust and Shelley O’Dwyer from Meridian transporting the kiwi and releasing them on Rona Island.

About the Haast Tokoeka kiwi

There are only approx. 400 Haast tokoeka in the wild.

The population of this critically endangered kiwi species is managed through Operation Nest Egg, where eggs are removed from the Haast sanctuary, incubated and hatched in captivity. The resulting chicks spend time at predator-free sites such as Rona Island, until they are big enough to defend themselves against stoats.

DOC acknowledges the kaitiakitanga of Makaawhio for whom the Haast tokoeka is a taonga species.

The Pomona Island Charitable Trust is a community-led organisation with the aim of restoring Rona and Pomona Islands, Lake Manapōuri and maintaining them as island sanctuaries.