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Sasha Dowling and Renee Denby coordinated the region-wide kiwi call survey. Photo: SUPPLIED

Region-wide kiwi call survey a first in 30 years

More than 80 volunteers across the Thames-Coromandel have sat out in the dark to record kiwi calls. Now, a region-wide survey will be able to determine where New Zealand’s national bird is – and is not.
For 12 evenings throughout June, Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel held a kiwi call survey at 50 different listening sites across the region.
Established by Katharina Hetch in 2022, it is the survey’s second year of operation, and Kiwi I te Kāinga project manager Sasha Dowling said the results – when collated – will paint a picture of high Kiwi populations in the rohe [area].
“There’s been a lot of kiwi surveys done by individual groups, but there hasn’t been a region-wide kiwi call done for 30 years, so it’s a really good way to get an overview of kiwi all across the Peninsula.”
Sasha and Renee Denby coordinated this year’s survey in which 11 new listening sites were established. Three of them were located near the beginning of the Waiotahi Track and Crosbies Hut and, after analysing the sample closest to Thames, Sasha said there were no kiwi picked up on the sound recording. However, the other recordings were yet to be analysed.
“We can pick up all sorts of birdlife and have heard some kiwi in places we didn’t expect to, moreso on the East Coast,” she said.
“It’s fascinating listening to them because you can hear all the elements – the wind and the rain.”
According to Sasha, kiwi emit a “unique series of shrill squeaks”, and the females can sound quite “frightening”.
Collating the data obtained from the survey is ongoing, with a report on the community trust’s findings still to come.
Sasha said she and Renee were grateful to the volunteers who made the survey possible – some of whom had to hike to get to their listening site.
“Kiwi are so elusive,” she said. “Everyone knows about kiwi but very few people have seen or heard kiwi. We had one listener in Coromandel Town who heard a noise behind him and he turned around and the kiwi was right behind him.
“It’s the volunteers that have made it happen – people are really committed to their listening sites.”
DETAILS: If you want to get involved in kiwi conservation, contact Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel at