The little spotted kiwi population of Shakespear Open Sanctuary has doubled with the introduction of a second group of 20 from Kapiti Island.
The first kiwi were reintroduced to the open sanctuary last April. There has been one fatality and around eight pairs of birds showed signs of breeding although chicks have yet to be sighted.
Sanctuary volunteers and rangers, as well as 200 invited guests, welcomed the kiwi to Te Haruhi Bay at an event on March 3. The birds were blessed with a powhiri and welcomed by open sanctuaries senior ranger Matt Maitland, SOSSI chair Peter Jackson and Naval Commander Quentin Randall.
Each bird had a radio transmitter fitted before they were taken away for release into the sanctuary.
The kiwi breeding programme at Shakespear relied on fundraising from the Ministry of Environment, Auckland Council, Kiwi4Kiwi, grants and public donations.
SOSSI chair Peter Jackson says that the latest release cost $40,000 including special handlers for the birds, transport by helicopter and the radio transmitters.
The release has been timed so that the birds can settle in prior to the breeding season, which runs across winter and spring.