BayBuzz has written a series of articles (most recent, and here) on Cape Sanctuary’s mishandling of endangered kiwi under its stewardship in recent years.

This past week, Newsroom environment editor, David Williams, has reported in great depth on what occurred during the 2017-18 period, establishing clear mismanagement of the situation by both Cape Sanctuary and overseer Department of Conservation, who was warned of and asked to investigate the situation, but failed to adequately do so. [Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.]

At this point, as unfortunate as it was for kiwis that perished, what was done is done. 

Our concern is the present and future care of the kiwi.

What is still missing is a clear public confirmation by Cape Sanctuary as to how these species are being managed and protected today, including clarity around the current relationship between the Sanctuary and Cape Kidnappers Lodge, whose guests’ improper access to kiwi chicks was a factor in the situation.

So far, Cape Sanctuary has refused requests for comments by both BayBuzz and Newsroom.

Williams at Newsroom quotes Forest & Bird chief executive Nicola Toki as follows:

“It has been frustrating and deeply concerning that despite a number of investigations that have previously been carried out, the issue has not been brought to the public’s attention until now …

“Given the concerning findings in this situation, the spotlight must now shift to the wider environmental system and ensuring that it delivers on what New Zealander lawmakers require it to.”

Williams concludes his reporting with a series of questions, most of which ask Cape Sanctuary to explain its past actions. However, he ends with these questions about the present, which I heartily endorse …

“Is the Cape still a kiwi creche? Are Lodge tours still occurring? Are kiwi still being handled by guests? Does the Cape’s current operation follow scientific best practice for kiwi? How many kiwis are still being tracked by transmitters?”

Here’s one answer, taken today from the Lodge’s (The Farm) website …

‘Discover More’ explained as follows: “Join our expert team as we take you through Cape Sanctuary’s conservation story and our kiwi monitoring programme. Test your skills in an interactive kiwi tracking demo, learn how to spot kiwi sign, hear about some of our quirky individuals, and if you are lucky, cross paths with a kiwi as they forage at night!” 

Cape Sanctuary appears to believe it can hide behind its predator-proof fence. However, our community – including the hundreds of volunteers who have contributed to the important work there – deserves both an apology and a detailed explanation of its current kiwi (and other species) management practices. An explanation that is then confirmed by the Department of Conservation – and closely monitored – as meeting all regulatory requirements and best practice standards.

The HB Regional Council should also speak up on this matter. For years HBRC has proudly supported and loudly touted the conservation work of Cape Sanctuary. As a Councillor, I was treated to many glowing accounts by staff. But now it too seems to be looking the other way. What does HBRC know today of Cape Sanctuary’s current practices and what endorsement of those is it prepared to make?

Until someone with appropriate credibility gives Cape Sanctuary a ‘Good Housekeeping’ seal of approval, I have a suggestion for Forest & Bird’s Nicola Toki.

Find a nice spot on Clifton Road in Te Awanga – the roadway Cape Kidnappers Lodge guests must take – for a billboard with this message:

Guests of The Farm: Don’t touch the kiwis!

Perhaps that message might spark some high-roller conversations at check-in and open the transparency gate at Cape Sanctuary.


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