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Community and sponsorship

Kiwis helping kiwi: Deb Harrington

It’s a big job saving a species, and one that couldn’t be done without the support of volunteers. Through our partnership with our partnership with Kiwis for kiwi, we’ve seen first-hand the difference everyday Kiwis make. This National Volunteer Week we meet some of the people giving their time to help kiwi.

Deb Harrington helps with a kiwi health check

Deb Harrington helps with a kiwi health check in Kaweka Forest Park

Deb Harrington, Save our Kaweka Kiwi Project volunteer

For more than nine years, Deb has been a volunteer helping to manage eastern brown kiwi in Hawke's Bay. Her work within the Kaweka Forest Park covers every stage of the process: from pest trapping and monitoring kiwi, to undertaking kiwi health checks, collecting chicks and eggs from the wild, through to releasing the young kiwi back into the Park. Deb also does administration work and recordkeeping that comes along the way.

What motivates you to volunteer?

It’s very satisfying work, both physically and mentally. Kiwi are such a unique bird, they always have a surprise in store for us and every trip is different. You get to know the individual birds and their little quirks. It’s very rewarding hearing reports from the public that they’re hearing more kiwi in the park now. I feel it’s a privilege to be involved.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

The long days and rugged terrain. It’s not uncommon for us to do 12 hour days. It starts with a 1.5-2 hour drive into the park, then up to a 2 hour walk before we start the day trying to locate our target kiwi. The snow storm back in 2016 has made the off-track travel in the bush particularly challenging.

What’s your volunteering highlight?

There isn’t one specific thing, however overall it’s the satisfaction of returning the juveniles back to the Kaweka Ranges. It’s always exciting to bring chicks out from a nest raid and then see them returned 6-8 months later. It’s a team effort, and the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED) team are a great bunch. I’m very fortunate to have two like-minded ladies that are keen to be involved. We have a lot of fun and I couldn’t do it without them.

For more information on the work to save kiwi visit kiwisforkiwi.org