On 1 May 2011 Manukura, little white kiwi, hatched. This was a delightful surprise to the rangers and team at Pukaha as she is the first white kiwi to hatch here and, as far as we know, the first white kiwi to hatch in captivity.
You can see Manukura every day in our nocturnal kiwi house. She shares this with another North Island Brown Kiwi called Turua. We are hoping that in the future they will be more than 'just friends' and will mate. She has quite a cheeky personality and at times is a little mean to Turua and chases him around. It does make for great kiwi viewing though!
Manukura is not albino (where there is a lack of melanin that makes pigmentation white and features pink eyes) she is pure white which means she is the rare progeny of two parents who carry the recessive white feather gene.
Manukura’s parents came from predator-free Little Barrier Island (700kms north of Pukaha) along with 28 other kiwi in 2010 in the single largest translocation of kiwi known. The purpose of the translocation was to boost kiwi population here. The result of that breeding season was 14 healthy chicks, most of who have now been released in to our forest and are now breeding the next generation of Pukaha North Island Brown kiwi.
Manukura captured world-wide attention when she was born as she is the only known white kiwi in the world. Recently she had a health scare and was treated by specialist vets at The Nest at Wellington Zoo. She had swallowed two stones, which is not unusual for birds that often have gut stones to assist with digestion. Unfortunately one stone was large and refused to move through her system the traditional way so it had to be removed. Noted Wellington Hospital urologist, Mr Rod Studd, performed the procedure under the full gaze of international media. The stone was ‘blasted’ to reduce its size and removed successfully using an endoscopic procedure . Manukura recovered well and on return to Pukaha Mount Bruce was introduced to her large enclosure in the Pukaha Kiwi House where all visitors may view her.
Manukura is considered taonga (a blessing) by local iwi, Rangitane ō Wairarapa and her name means ‘of chiefly status’.
Since Manukura hatched in 2011, there have been 4 other recorded hatchings of white kiwi. Two others hatched in captivity, named Mauriora and Mapuna, and two hatched in the Pukaha reserve. Sadly the two chicks hatched in the reserve were killed by stoats within 2 months of their hatch and Mauriora, although released into the reserve in late 2013 was found with a damaged beak during a routine health check. Following extensive veterinary care, it was agreed with local iwi that his quality of life was so impaired by the damage to his beak that he would not be able to live without ongoing and sustained pain relief and vet care so the tough decision to euthanise him was made.
Mapuna remains in captivity at Pukaha in a predator safe enclosure having undergone successful eye surgery in 2016.
It is unknown whether other white kiwi are also living in the reserve but it there is a possibility. The team at Pukaha continue to strive to maintain the trapping network as robustly as possible to minimise the ongoing risk of predation of kiwi and other forest birds in the Pukaha reserve.