Whakatane kiwi conservation hero recognised

Bridget Palmer with Kiwis for kiwi trustee Ruud Kleinpaste at the 2019 Kiwi Awards. Image: Supplied.

Conservation leaders dedicated to saving our national icon have been recognised at the Kiwi Awards, held at the annual National Kiwi Hui in Hawkes Bay.

A Whakatane kiwi conservation leader dedicated to saving our national icon has been recognised at the awards.

The awards were created by Kiwis for kiwi, an independent charity that supports hundreds of volunteers and private landowners all over the country in their work to protect kiwi and their natural habitat.

Executive director of Kiwis for kiwi, Michelle Impey, says the awards were created to acknowledge and thank the kiwi conservation projects, organisations and individuals who have contributed significantly to kiwi conservation.

“These passionate and dedicated people are the backbone of community and iwi conservation across New Zealand. Kiwi numbers are growing in areas where work is being done to manage their habitats.

“That is thanks to the thousands of volunteers and community projects that continue to work towards a predator free and safe environment for kiwi. These people are fundamental to the success of the national strategy to turn the two per cent decline into a two per cent increase. No one can do it alone,” says Michelle.

Bridget Palmer from Whakatane was awarded Kiwi Kaiako – Trainer of the Year.

Bridget is passionate about the environment and saving the North Island brown kiwi. She has spent many hours up-skilling and mentoring likeminded people in best practice, taking complete conservation novices and turning them into experienced kiwi practitioners.

One of Bridget’s favourite parts of her role is working with children. She runs a programme, Halo Katikati Cadets which takes local tamariki into the bush where they learn about kiwi and other native flora and fauna species, first aid training, injured bird training, planting and trapping.

“This gives the children a basic knowledge of their environment and helps them become valued members of community groups, should they wish to pursue conservation. There are always a few in each group of children that want to make conservation a part of their future and we need them to carry on the work,” says Bridget.

Having worked for Department of Conservation for 17 years, Bridget has volunteered for Whakatane Kiwi Project for the last 10 years. Her role as team leader involves managing and training the team as well as being part of the operational side which see her wandering up hill and down dale in search of kiwi chicks to ensure they are safe and well.

Kiwi usually have a territory of around 10 hectares but once they get to four or five months old some like to stretch their legs and can end up covering quite a distance.

Bridget says one bird ‘Footrot’, named after Murray Ball’s comic strip Footrot Flats had travelled 25 kilometres across people’s backyards, roads, streams and fields but they did eventually find him.

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