Concerns after five Coromandel Kiwi mauled to death by dogs: 'It's less of a conservation problem, more of a people problem'

Serious concerns have been raised for our national bird with five kiwis found dead in the Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary, in the Coromandel, in four months, all mauled by dogs.

The Department of Conservation's (DOC) Nicola Toki spoke to Breakfast about the numbers - the sanctuary’s worst result number in 18 years.

"The simple message out of this is that dogs might be man's best friend, but they're certainly not kiwis," Ms Toki told Breakfast.

"The guts of tihs problem is that it's less of a conservation problem and more of a people problem. This is entirely within our ability to fix.

"People just need to get their heads around the fact that if you're blessed enough to live in a place with kiwi in your backyard, that really means you have to get your dog tied up, on a leash in those areas, and know exactly where it is at all times."

Ms Toki said we "sometimes have a bit of rose-tinted glasses on about our native wildlife in New Zealand" and the recent kiwi deaths are "another stark reminder" of how it's not "all hunky dory out there".

She says DOC has done research on dogs' impact in Northland, another "hotspot" for kiwi deaths caused by dogs. It found that while kiwis typically "live somewhere between 30 and 50 years", the lifespan is reduced to 13 due to dogs.

"Dogs are the number one killer of adult kiwi, and adult kiwi are the most important birds because they're the breeding ones."

She says the birds are resilient but we need to do more to protect them.

"They've been around for millions of years. When kiwi are adult, we know, for example, they can fight off a stoat with those big feet - they're like the Bruce Lee of the bird world - they belong to New Zealand in such a way that we call ourselves Kiwi to the rest of the world. We can't afford to lose them."

The Department of Conservation’s Nicola Toki spoke about the Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary’s worst numbers in 18 years. Source: Breakfast