Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is confident that kiwi handling practices at Cape Sanctuary are of a very high standard.

Date:  03 October 2018

DOC has been working closely on a programme of education in kiwi management with Cape Sanctuary since February 2018.

DOC’s Hawke’s Bay Operations Manager Connie Norgate says she is comfortable the permits, and management of kiwi is to a very high standard and meets the guidelines required for permitted and managed interaction.

“Claims that kiwi interaction was guided by convenience rather than health requirements of the birds, that paying kiwi tour guests took precedence over kiwi management, and kiwi died as a result of neglect are unfounded and based on opinion rather than evidence,” she says.

“The Department has worked with the new Cape Sanctuary staff and manager to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities under the Wildlife Act and are familiar with the kiwi best practice manual.

“Cape Sanctuary is working within the conditions of the Wildlife Act Authority.

“There are around 35 trusts and sanctuaries that have permits to hold kiwi. DOC is not aware of any other sanctuaries in New Zealand that are conducting kiwi observation tours which are not authorised. All permits have a standard condition that Kiwi Best Practice must be upheld, otherwise they will be in breach of their permit.”

Kiwi observation tours at Cape Sanctuary allow for up to 10 guests to accompany sanctuary staff as they carry out health checks on kiwi. There are clear guidelines around what is and isn’t allowed for observers. 

Working with businesses, iwi and community partnerships enables conservation growth. This allows us to do more conservation work than DOC can ever do alone.

Cape Sanctuary, like many other sanctuaries throughout the country, is doing important conservation work and has led to many successful translocations of bird species and successful ongoing breeding.

Background information

About Cape Sanctuary

  • DOC received complaints in 2017 about the way wildlife was managed at Cape Sanctuary. The concerns coincided with staff and management changes at the sanctuary.
  • Sir Paul McCartney’s interaction with the kiwi chick drew attention from local and international media. This coverage resulted in a huge awareness regarding the conservation efforts needed to protect and save our iconic bird.
  • While the handling of the kiwi at Cape Sanctuary was not permitted at the time the picture was taken, it is now. No harm came to this kiwi while being held by Sir Paul.

About kiwi permits generally

  • Our Kiwi Recovery Group is actively involved in our authority processes for determining who is authorised to handle kiwi, and the facilities where this occurs.
  • There are specific frequencies for welfare checks stated, and permit holders are not allowed to exceed these. 
  • Download our Best Practice Manual.
  • There is an allowance in the Best Practice that people can observe practitioners while they undertake management of birds. 
  • The Cape Sanctuary as a “kohanga site” for kiwi are allowed up to 10 paying customers to observe kiwi husbandry and welfare activities as set out in their Wildlife Act Authority.
  • Kiwi permits are monitored as part of each district’s compliance plan.
  • DOC has been working with Cape Sanctuary on their permit since February 2018. While the formal part of the permit has only just come through recently, the local office was comfortable to work through the process of consolidating the various kiwi permits for Cape Sanctuary, hence why it took longer.
  • DOC recognises that the Kiwi Best Practice Manual may not clearly reflect the management of kiwi for advocacy purposes and intends to ensure any updates are considered on review.

About partnerships

  • New Zealand faces a range of conservation challenges that will require a sustained and significant effort, the support of business will be critical.
  • Many individuals, organisations and businesses want to be involved in supporting conservation in New Zealand; we are glad to work with them and grateful for their support. New Zealanders appreciate our natural heritage and want to be involved in looking after it.
  • DOC is fully committed to our core conservation work. This work is prioritised in line with our overarching goals.  Partnerships enable us to build on that core work and for more to be done to protect ecosystems and species.
  • DOC believes that a thriving natural environment is the foundation for New Zealand’s economic, cultural and social success. It is calling for businesses to help strengthen that foundation: a win/win for business and nature. 


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