Birds died from alleged neglect at Cape Sanctuary at Hawke's Bay

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has refuted claims for the deaths of Cape Sanctuary as a result of "neglect", labeling them as "completely unfounded".

Documents requested under the Official Information Act about the sanctuary included concerns about high turnover of staff, the death of two kaka in cat traps in October 2017 and the death of spotted kiwi in that same year.

DoC's Hawke's Bay operations manager Connie Norgate said the loss of the little spotted Kiwi in the summer of 2016 was not from "neglect" but rather because it was an "extremely dry summer".

"I know they did not know what they could do, and that's why they were appropriately managed and everything was up to scratch," Norgate said.

"I think that child of things can often be prevented … it is just that you can learn from it [we] would like to think that it will not happen again.

"I think what we have learned is that we can work together to help each other, certainly from DoC's perspective, because we are going to support sanctuaries to do good work in conservation."

Concerns were also raised verbally that provided kiwi tours to paying guests "took precedence over other higher priority kiwi management".

It also stated that the choice of birds was guided by convenience rather than absolute requirement for a health check, extended time between checks or kiwi and predation of Little Spotted kiwi.

The sanctuary is situated on Cape Kidnappers, on three properties – owned by American billionaire Julian Robertson, Hawke's Bay's Andy Lowe and the Hansen family.

Former sanctuary ecological adviser Dr. John McLennan, who has a QSM in recognition of his services to kiwi and the community, said he could not comment on what happened after 10 years of service in 2015.

However, he said, during his time the sanctuary, "grew hundreds of chicks for release and provided a spectacular service to kiwi conservation in Hawke's Bay."

He believed this had continued since his departure.

The Kiwi Discovery Walk is not open to the public, but guests at the Farm at Cape Kidnappers can pay another $ 600 to accompany sanctuary staff carrying out health checks on kiwis – including checking the kiwis radio transmitters, weighing and measuring their birds. wellbeing.

McLennan who, along with his wife set them up, said there was a "natural fit" between being in the sanctuary and in particular in seeing kiwi in the wild to join.

"I do not know what causes the spotted kiwi out there." "It does not seem to be a good idea and I am puzzled by it … have a few losses in the context of a large number of wins. "

He said about 85 per cent or chicks released back into the wild, once they hit the 800 gram threshold, survived.

"There is a huge amount of conservation work going on out at Cape Sanctuary, involving multiple species and on the whole, the story is one of overwhelming success and gratitude and I do not expect that to change.

"Along the way, there seems to be some hiccups but every single project has it and it would be a shame in my view if we focused on that and ignored the big picture."

The owners of Cape Sanctuary did not respond to requests for comment.

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