How can local tangata whenua be empowered to make the best decisions for sustainable management of Northland’s brown kiwi, and how can the isolated kiwi populations from Ipipiri (Eastern Bay of Islands) be managed to maintain local whakapapa and reduce the negative impact of small population sizes and inbreeding?
Management of taonga species is a costly and time-consuming process. To ensure the best outcomes, the practice of kaitiakitanga should be guided by the best possible information. Hapū from Ipipiri, primarily Te Patukea and Ngāti Kuta, were early to recognise the need for a deeper understanding of the whakapapa of local kiwi populations, using genetic tools, before management plans are implemented, and also how advancements in this area could serve as an example that could be applied to many other taonga species across the motu.
Working closely with these hapū, this project is applying recent advances in genome science accessible, and using these advanced tools of genetic analysis will improve understanding of the whakapapa, the history and health status of the Ipipiri kiwi, as well as the status of birds from mainland populations that could serve as donors for genetic rescue of the island birds. The project provides local tangata whenua with key information for decision-making regarding conservation efforts such as habitat preservation, translocations of birds between localities, and facilitation of interbreeding between isolated kiwi populations. This study is delivering information that will help ensure the future survival of this taonga.