Kiwi Conservation Centre

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The kiwi is a nocturnal flightless bird and New Zealand’s national icon. At Te Puia you can see live kiwi close up in a special darkened enclosure and learn how we protect these extraordinary endangered birds.

Kiwi / Nature

Brand new Kiwi Conservation Centre now open

Te Puia’s three resident kiwi now have a new, state-of-the-art facility to call home. Following 18 months of construction, Te Puia’s new Kiwi Conservation Centre offers kiwi and manuhiri (visitors) a leading edge, purpose-built environment in which to live and learn. The Kiwi Conservation Centre will strengthen Te Puia’s conservation efforts including advocacy, captive breeding for release and dog aversion training. In the new centre, manuhiri (visitors) have a crystal clear viewing experience of the kiwi environment, with specialist, three-layer glass which also dampens noise, providing crucial sound insulation for the birds.  The centre also incorporates temperature controlled lighting to suit both the kiwi and the growing vegetation, an isolation room for sick or injured kiwi, soundproof panels on the walls and a speaker system featuring translated educational information that can be tailored to specific groups.

Sustainability was also at the forefront of the design, with the roof water collected and filtered to be used again within the building.

Vet nurse and Kiwi Conservation Centre manager, Tracy Johnson and her team, are excited to be able to offer a much-improved environment for the birds, and an enhanced visitor experience. “Due to the large number of manuhiri, Te Puia is in a prime position to deliver key conservation messages and promote how the public can assist with conservation initiatives in their own areas,” says Ms Johnson. The welfare of the kiwi in our care is paramount, and adhering to the husbandry guidelines set down by the Department of Conservation and ZAA (Zoo Aquarium Association) is top priority. Te Puia is an accredited member of ZAA, which means the organisation maintains the highest animal welfare and husbandry standards.


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Kiwi / Nature

Kiwi & Māori Culture

Māori have always regarded the kiwi as a special bird. They believed it to the ‘hidden bird’ of Tānemahuta – the god of the forest. Kiwi feathers were woven into beautiful cloaks, which were worn only by chiefs. The name ‘kiwi’ is believed to have been inspired by the ‘kivi’, a tropical bird with a long beak found in Polynesia that resembles the kiwi. Māori used to eat kiwi, steaming them in a hāngi (earth oven).

Kiwi / Nature

Kiwi & New Zealand culture

The kiwi (‘kee-wee’) bird is an important cultural icon to all New Zealanders, who call themselves ‘Kiwis’. In the late 1800s, the kiwi started being used as a trademark, and featured on one of the first pictorial stamps issued. During the early 1900s, New Zealand was depicted in sporting and other cartoons as a kiwi. During the First World War, New Zealand soldiers started being referred to as Kiwis. The term has remained popular until today.

Kiwi / Nature


Te Puia | NZMACI is committed to the sustainability of our taonga (treasures). We are bound by promises to our (tūpuna) ancestors to preserve our unique geothermal environment, language and culture. 

We are part of a national programme to protect and breed native kiwi birds. We display native geckos (mokomoko) as well. Our conservation efforts also include the protection of a large colony of kawau (shags) on the Puarenga Stream. This stream was once badly polluted, and we are engaging with the community to reduce the run-off of agricultural chemicals. Our geothermal area was once in a bad state because of city-wide extraction of heat and fluid. However, we have been part of the world’s most significant urban recovery of a damaged geothermal field. The ecosystem around this field is delicate, and we are contributing to biodiversity and pest management programmes.

All new buildings at Te Puia | NZMACI are designed for solar power or conversion to geothermal heat exchangers. We are also considering a mini-hydropower system and are seeking to be more than 60% energy self-sufficient by 2022. We actively recycle and encourage manuhiri (guests) to participate in recycling, and endeavour to use environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals.



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