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Forest & Bird welcomes a report into kiwi deaths at Cape Sanctuary released today by the Department of Conservation (DOC) but questions why it has taken five years for it to act.

In 2018 Forest & Bird contacted the Department of Conservation about the wellbeing of kiwi at Cape Sanctuary in Hawke’s Bay, after the society’s representative on the Kiwi Recovery Group became aware of the deaths of little spotted kiwi/kiwi pukupuku there.

From early 2018 to late 2019 Forest & Bird raised a series of concerns with the Department of Conservation about the handling and management of kiwi at the Sanctuary, the deaths of kiwi over the 2016/2017 summer, and the Department’s processes before and after it learned of those deaths.

In October 2019 these concerns were formally conveyed to the then Director General of DOC. DOC made a commitment to investigate and respond to the concerns.

Forest & Bird Chief Executive Nicola Toki says:

“Kiwi are incredibly special to all New Zealanders. I can only imagine how people will feel when they hear 25 kiwi died at Cape Sanctuary here in Aotearoa.

"New Zealanders put their trust in DOC to look after precious species like kiwi. We need government departments to fulfil their responsibilities, especially when it comes to wildlife that can’t speak for itself.

"It's disappointing that it's taken five years and a change in leadership at DOC to get to this point. The current Director General has done the right thing in commissioning this independent report.

"Forest & Bird continues to have some reservations about the recommendations of the report. We feel that the issues surrounding the 2019 variation were not fully and properly evaluated. Similarly, we remain concerned that the recommendation to review the approvals, when there does not appear to be a power to do this, is also questionable.

"Despite these reservations, the independent report shows all too clearly that change is needed. The recommendations need to be fully implemented as far as possible. Forest & Bird will be seeking assurances from DOC about how the recommendations will be acted on in a timely manner and any other steps that are necessary to ensure that events this this are not repeated.”

DOC media release | DOC improving systems in wake of kiwi review

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