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Despite kiwi crisis, national bird's breeding season off to flying start

They're our national bird, but they're facing a crisis.

Kiwi are dying at a rate of nearly 20 birds per week, and it's estimated there are only 68,000 left.

However, thanks to conservation programmes around the country, this year's breeding season is off to a flying start.

At Northern Wairarapa's Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, the staff are working overtime for the national bird.

"So we've got two more eggs here, got a chick that hatched a few days ago," Pūkaha ranger Jess Flamy said. "Usually, we get 20 eggs during this season, but this year, we've already got 10 eggs."

One of the kiwis is just six days old, but it isn't just cute – it's got something extra special, too.

"It does carry the white recessive gene, too," Ms Flamy said. "It's pretty special because it's quite rare."

But for its older sibling, it's time to head outdoors to the creche.

"This little guy is the first one of the season to come outside," Pūkaha ranger Tara Swan said. "So we make them a little bed of fern fronds so he can hide and feel safe in there."

Safe spaces are more important than ever for kiwi survival.

"There's currently a two per cent decline going on across the country for our kiwi species," she said. "They reckon there's less than a five per cent survival rate of kiwi if you don't have any intervention.

"It's almost like a sitting duck - it's so vulnerable to anything and everything."

Ms Flamy agreed.

"It won't take long for them to actually disappear if we don't do anything," she said. 

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They’re our national bird, but they’re facing a crisis. Source: 1 NEWS