A Victoria University researcher has made a violent discovery about the kiwi from night time video filmed at the Zealandia Sanctuary in Wellington.
Filmed over two consecutive nights, the footage captured by Dr Rachael Shaws, shows a kiwi destroying a robin's nest and causing the death of the chicks inside it.
It is thought to be the first recording of such behaviour from Kiwis.
Dr Shaw, who is studying the population of robins at the sanctuary, made the discovery after finding the destroyed nest earlier in the morning, as well as the dead chicks showing scars from excessive pecking.
The inspection led her to check the footage from the camera monitoring the nest, which is how she discovered the destructive actions were that of a little spotted kiwi.
"I was shocked to find it was a kiwi. I was expecting a morepork or other bird to have destroyed the nest," she says.
"Although the kiwi doesn't directly kill the chicks, they had pretty severe injuries. The video shows that the chicks were still alive after being pecked by the kiwi and then fell out of the nest, most likely to their deaths."
Dr Shaw says she remains uncertain what motivated the kiwi's actions, but her best reasoning points to it being defensive nature.
"One possibility is that the robin may have lined the nest with kiwi feathers, because robin do like to use these as nest lining.
I was shocked to find it was a kiwi. I was expecting a morepork or other bird to have destroyed the nest”- Dr Rachael Shaw
"Kiwi are highly territorial, so it may have reacted to the smell of that nest, as if it were an intruder on its territory."
Though she was saddened by the death of the chicks, she acknowledged the discovery was special.
"It's exciting to be make new scientific discoveries like this, and potentially uncover a new behaviour that might change the way we look at our national icon."