Helping Kiwi flourish

  • Kiwi Rescue

    Checking a Rakiura tokoeka (Stewart Island brown kiwi) chick as part of the Kiwi Rescue programme.

Kiwi cannot flourish in Aotearoa New Zealand unless pest threats are eliminated – something that will only be achieved if science-based tools are developed and implemented.

Kiwi Rescue lead researcher John Innes, of Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, says this is why research being carried out in his project aligns with the work of the BioHeritage Challenge.

“Our work and the Challenge are inextricably linked. Saving our kiwi is utterly dependent on pest control, and on novel strategies for managing threatened species, and the Challenge is leading the development of new science-based tools in these areas.”

While there is no formal investment agreement between Kiwi Rescue and the BioHeritage Challenge, Kiwi Rescue has chosen to align its research because they are both working toward the same outcome.

“Our missions are essentially the same – the Challenge aims to enhance and restore New Zealand’s biological heritage, while we’re aiming to enhance and restore kiwi populations – an iconic element of that biological heritage.”

The BioHeritage Challenge is comprised of 18 parties, including Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, that contribute research effort across a wide range of science investments. In addition to research being directed by the Challenge, the parties identified almost $180m of research over the past three years that align with BioHeritage’s mission.

The aim of analysing the amount of aligned research was to facilitate conversations about research priorities and gaps, says Challenge Director Dr Andrea Byrom.

“We’re now at a stage where we can more clearly direct and reshape Challenge investment to explicitly target those gaps and priorities to deliver impacts.

“At the same time, we want to determine potential connections and opportunities to add value to existing research effort. By re-shaping research directions through aligned research, we believe we can deliver greater impact through a focused and scaled-up effort.”

All work that falls under the Challenge umbrella drives toward at an overarching impact, with Kiwi Rescue’s mission aligning with the goal of securing threatened species and resilient ecosystems.

“The Challenge is a coordinating agency and, because our missions align, we are – in essence – the work that they’re coordinating,” John says.

“They can’t do everything but their focus and forward thinking is bringing together a huge range of work which will have a massive cumulative effect for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

  • Other key partner organisations in Kiwi Rescue are the Department of Conservation, Kiwis for Kiwi, Makaawhio (West Coast), Ngāti Rangi (central North Island) Canterbury Museum and Massey University.