Kiwi chick a ‘parting gift’ from last cruise ship passengers

Donations made by cruise ship passengers visiting the Bay of Plenty during the 2019/2020 season have funded the hatching and raising of a Kiwi chick. The hatch of the healthy chick has been deemed a “timely reminder of the positive impacts and regenerative possibilities of tourism” by Tourism Bay of Plenty.

The 2019/2020 cruise ship passengers will be the last to visit the Bay of Plenty for some time, as New Zealand’s international borders remain indefinitely closed due to COVID-19.

“This Kiwi chick feels like a belated parting gift from some of the last cruise ship passengers that we had the privilege of welcoming to our shores. It’s a symbolic ‘mā te wā’ or ‘see you soon’ from the region’s cruise passengers,” said Sector Development Manager – Cruise & Business Events, Nikita Fraser.

“This Kiwi deserves a special name that tells the story of his beginning – in the Ōtanewainuku Forest in Ōropi thanks to some of the last manuhiri ki tāwāhi, international visitors, to depart Tauranga Moana. We’re asking the community to help us find a name befitting this precious chick,” said Fraser. Tourism Bay of Plenty has asked followers of its page, Bay of Plenty NZ, to suggest names for the Kiwi chick.

The timing of the chick’s hatch is symbolic for Aotearoa New Zealand as Save Kiwi Month, which is led by Kiwis for kiwi, is held annually in October. The annual fundraising campaign encourages New Zealanders to raise funds to save the national icon.

Fraser said, “I’m heartened by this reminder of the benefits of tourism that reach far beyond economic during what is such a challenging time for the tourism industry.”

“Tourism can be a force for good and this Kiwi has shown us just one of the ways that manuhiri, our visitors, give back to our community and our environment.”

Donations collected from passengers by Tourism Bay of Plenty’s volunteer ambassadors at the Port of Tauranga during the last cruise ship season totalled $3,090.09. The donations funded the cost of incubating and hatching the chick at the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua. The egg was lifted and transported from the Ōtanewainuku Forest in Ōropi, Tauranga by fieldworkers from the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust in September 2020.

Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust claims that Kiwi numbers within the forest were dropping sharply before the organisation was established, from around 50 birds in 1984 to just five in 2006. Now, there are approximately 13 Kiwi in the forest with more added each year.

“Once the weight of the Kiwi reaches around one kilogram at the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa, the bird will be transferred to a predator-free crèche for Kiwi birds in the Waikato,” said Chair of the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust Bruce Fraser.

“When the Kiwi is approximately six months old, the bird will be released back into the wild of the Ōtanewainuku Forest, increasing its chance of survival from just five percent to 65 percent,” said Emma Bean, Kiwi Hatchery Manager at the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa.

Recently released data from Statistics New Zealand revealed the economic impact of the last cruise ship season. The cruise industry brought significant benefits to the Bay of Plenty and the 2019/2020 season was no exception with the region profiting from $74 million in cruise ship expenditure. During the 2019/2020 season, the Bay of Plenty welcomed 268,690 passengers and crew from 105 ships including 25 double ship days, one triple ship day, and six overnight ships.

National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa works with conservation groups that locate and collect Kiwi eggs from 15 different forests across the North Island to be incubated and hatched at the Rotorua-based facility before releasing them back into the wild.

Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust is a Tauranga-based community conservation Trust formed in 2002 in response to the decline of North Island brown Kiwi in the Ōtanewainuku Forest.

The Kiwi chick weighed 299.9 grams at its hatch at 5:00 pm on 6 October 2020.

This story is part of TIA's #TourismChampions campaign. View more inspirational stories here