kiwi wandering trail opened

EDUCATIONAL: Caleb O’Neill, 7, and Jaymin O’Neill, 9, keep a close watch on the eighth kiwi on the walk, Kaputerangi. Photos John Morin D7864-08

DESPITE the rain, crowds of people turned out to celebrate the official launch of the Kiwi Wandering Trail last weekend.

The self-guided scavenger hunt featuring 10 bronze kiwi has been developed by Whakatane Kiwi Trust to educate the public around kiwi conservation.

Each kiwi on the trail is unique, modelled and named after some of the trust’s more prominent personalities.

“We had around 40 to 50 people attend (the opening), which I was stoked with, especially considering the weather,” said project manager Neil Hutton.

While there were games running at the celebration, the kiwi created by artist Liz Grant were the real attraction for the children. “It was really fun watching kids interact with the kiwi,” said Mr Hutton.

“Some were hugging and petting them, and others were trying to feed them. A few kids even collected leaves and sticks and put them around the kiwi to hide them, so they would feel safe.”

The kiwi are so lifelike; when the team were installing them members of the public actually thought they were real.

For the next few weeks anybody who posts a picture of themselves or their children with the kiwi on the trail to the Whakatane Kiwi Trust’s Facebook page may win a stuffed kiwi toy – they just have to get the most likes.

Kiwi trail maps can be picked up from the Whakatane library or information centre.