Where do kiwis live

The kiwi bird

People and kiwis

Since the first Māori settlers reached New Zealand, kiwis have been hunted on a large scale by these mammals (especially dogs) that were introduced at the same time. The Maori already displaced kiwis from numerous regions and thus created island-like torn areas of distribution for the kiwis. The extinction of the dwarf kiwi on the North Island was caused by the Maori. For the kiwi hunt, the Maori adopted special tactics that also included imitating the calls. Kiwis were mainly hunted for their meat, but also for the feathers, which were important as jewelry.

When the white settlers reached New Zealand, the situation for the Kiwis got even worse. In the 19th century, kiwi feathers were even exported to Europe because they were used to trimmings on clothes. In addition, stuffed kiwis are becoming increasingly popular with collectors. Above all, the dogs, cats, foxes and martens (weasels and ermines) brought with them by the whites created a hunting pressure that the birds could hardly cope with. Kiwis in the east and north of the South Island as well as in coastal regions of the North Island have been completely exterminated. Refuge areas remained, among others, the Fiordland, the Tongariro region, the North Auckland Peninsula and Stewart Island.

The hunt for kiwis was banned in 1896. Kiwis have been under protection since 1921. Kiwis are no longer in direct danger from humans, but they are still threatened by the destruction of the landscape and above all by the animals that have been introduced. In the 1990s, a single escaped German Shepherd in Waitangi Forest killed 500 kiwis in a matter of days, more than half of the population there. It is estimated that 94 percent of young kiwis on the mainland are killed by cats or weasels before they live to be 100 days old.

All five species of kiwi are listed as endangered by the IUCN. Since the kiwis are well known as New Zealand's national birds, efforts to protect them have increased in recent times. Endangered populations are brought to islands that have been previously cleared of cats, rats, and other potential hazards. Of the striped kiwi (Apteryx mantelli), which lives on the North Island, there are only around 35,000 animals left. It is therefore classified as endangered. The population of the Okarito kiwifruit Apteryx rowi only consists of 250 individuals and is acutely threatened with extinction.