With funding and support from local volunteers, the Remutaka Conservation Trust continues to increase the population of kiwi in the Remutaka Forest Park.
“Our Kiwi Avoidance Training for Dogs is a very successful way to keep kiwi safe when people bring their dogs into the park,” says Rosemary Thompson, Volunteer Coordinator.
“This year a $2,000 grant from the Hutt Mana Charitable Trust has enabled us to subsidise two weekends of training.”
Dog owners visiting the Remutaka Forest Park for hunting or recreation, are encouraged to attend kiwi avoidance training for dogs to minimise the risk to kiwi. Subsidising the training makes it affordable to dog owners and results in more ‘kiwi safe’ dogs visiting parks throughout the country.
The Remutaka Conservation Trust Kiwi Project
Making dogs ‘kiwi safe’ is an important part of the Remutaka Conservation Trust Kiwi Project which focuses on keeping and expanding the kiwi population in the Remutaka Forest Park.
“The first six kiwi were introduced in 2006, with another 20 relocated from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island in 2009. Now thanks to our amazing volunteers, the number of kiwi is estimated to be 150,” says Rosemary.
With such an enthusiastic team of volunteers tracking, trapping and monitoring the breeding patterns of the kiwi, the conservation trust is keen to continue their hard work.
“We now have more than 130 keen volunteers involved with tracking and trapping in the park – putting in more than 9,000 hours each year.”
Kiwi Avoidance Dog Training
“We really appreciate the funding we have received from Hutt Mana Charitable Trust. With their assistance, we can train 70 – 80 dogs in one weekend,” says Rosemary.
A dog can be trained to avoid kiwi in just 15-20 minutes and once the dog has been back to confirm avoidance then it is safe to go to into any park area in the country (subject to regional restrictions).
“We’ve been running our training for 12 years’, and it’s very effective. Dogs coming back for training show consistent avoidance when presented with different kiwi stimuli,” says Melody Mclaughlin, Kiwi Project Coordinator.
“This can be a moving bird, nest material, kiwi poo, kiwi calling and other props. Our kiwi avoidance dog trainer Jim Pottinger is very experienced and has a great rapport with dogs and owners alike.”
“We encourage owners to bring their dogs back to training once a year, or every two years, to ensure their dog shows continued avoidance to kiwi. Research around the effectiveness of this form of training shows that after three years the effectiveness reduces,” says Rosemary.
The Remutaka Conservation Trust is a non-profit community group made up of over 170 volunteers. It is the first volunteer group to release and protect kiwi in the wild and relies on grants, sponsorship and donations and amazing volunteers to ensure the kiwi in the Remutaka’s continue to thrive.
Applying for funding
“Applying online was so easy!” says Rosemary.
She encourages other volunteer organisations to contact the Hutt Mana Charitable Trust to take advantage of the generous grants that are available to the community,
“We are very grateful to the Hutt Mana Charitable Trust for supporting our projects and for helping us with funding this year.”