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Home arrow Human Interest arrow Local arrow Kiwi release at Mike Camm's place
Kiwi release at Mike Camm's place PDF Print
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Human Interest - Local
Written by Wade Doak, Pix Jan Doak   
Monday, 30 November 2009

13 OCT 09.
First published in TCR&R's Focus magazine

Waiting there in the bosom of the forested hills and valleys on Mike Camm’s land was a pleasure for the group of nature lovers, young and old, knowing a D.O.C. vehicle was enroute with three kiwis to be released in the vicinity. A tender, fecund spring day, warblers and miromiros singing, warmth without the heat of summer – everyone sat around talking.

I pointed out to a friend with binoculars that the headland out on the coast was the entrance to Matapouri Bay and that the Matapouri river had its source at the lake in the foreground – an artificial lake Mike and Jane have created, which spills over into a raupo swamp encrusted with coal black fresh water mussels, much beloved by the local pukekos.,

Eventually a grunty ute bumped along the farm track driven by D.O.C. worker Miriam Ritchie, a Matapouri girl. On the tray in special wooden boxes, were two female kiwis and one male. For Mike and Jane Camm and their neighbours in the Tutukaka Land Care Group, this would be the culmination of their long efforts to rid the land of pests and control wandering dogs. The small lake glinting in the afternoon sun is habitat for endangered pateke or brown teal ducks, which D.O.C. has entrusted to Mike’s group. Now, with an estimated 200 kiwis in the district they are being entrusted with excess kiwi from an offshore island to the south, fulfilling D.O.C.’s plan to create breeding populations and release them back into mainland areas once protection is in place.

For the primer kids of the Ngunguru School this was a day they would never forget. Mike cradles a kiwi in his arms just like a baby, its head snuggled in the crook of his elbow, his hands clasping its powerful three-clawed legs and each child got to stroke the coarse brown feathers. Miriam explained where its ear was, just behind the beady eye. Then she probed among its feathers to reveal the vestigial wing. Murmurs of appreciation. They learned that the male kiwi had been fitted with a tiny radio transmitter because kiwi males are the ones who establish a nest and guard a large solitary egg for eighty days until it hatches. A fine example for New Zealand men, a lady said. Then many of the adults present became tender and parental, cradling a kiwi as it was admired and gently petted. “Don’t touch the sensitive beak,” they were advised. Cameras clicked; flashlights winked – everybody was seduced by the spiritual presence of our national birds - until the time came to release them. Mike stooped down with one and put its head into a handy prepared burrow in some fern. A directional aerial held aloft by a D.O.C. girl traced the male’s progress reassuringly.

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