White kiwi makes move to life outdoorsSHABNAM DASTGHEIB
The white kiwi chick hatched in Wairarapa may be destined for a life in advocacy, having already attracted global attention for his species.
The chick, now a month old, was the 13th of 14 kiwis successfully hatched at Pukaha Mt Bruce this breeding season. After reaching the required weight and all the expected milestones, including eating on his own, the chick has been moved to a predator-proof enclosure where 12 other chicks have been raised this season.
Named Manukura, which means "of chiefly status", the white chick is the rare offspring of kiwi transferred to Pukaha from Little Barrier Island last year. He will stay in his new enclosure for at least four months.
Conservation Department area manager Chris Lester said it was not clear where the chick would go after this time but an advocacy role was an option.
"We will keep his best interests in mind but he has already contributed hugely. It is good for New Zealand and good in a conservation sense that the kiwi's story be told around the world."
Reports the white chick would be at greater risk from predators would only be true if the bird was out in the daytime, so it was possible he would be set free in the wild at some stage, he said.
Manukura has captured the world's imagination, with news stories about him published in Middle East, the United States and Europe. Visitor numbers at Pukaha wildlife centre have been considerably greater while he has been on display, with 200 to 300 people there at peak times.
"We have had good crowds through over the past week and there have been lots of comments from people who see it as a sign of good things," manager Kathy Houkamau said.
Though Manukura is being referred to as a male, "his" sex will not be clear for a few more weeks.