People don't appreciate how difficult it is to change farm systems quickly, says Pāmu chief executive Steven Carden.
Following a successful pilot programme on two of its Northland farms, Mangatoa and Kapiro, Pāmu has introduced a 'Kiwi Avoidance Training' policy for dogs residing on all its Northland farms, where kiwi are also known to be resident. This means that all dogs will receiving training to reduce the risk that they will attack a kiwi.
The farms involved are Kapiro, Takou Bay Dairy Unit, Puketotara, Mangatoa & Takakuri.
The aim of the policy is to ensure dogs do not harm the iconic kiwi – one of NZ’s endangered native birds.
Pāmu environment manager Gordon Williams says that although there is no guarantee a dog will not attack a kiwi, no matter the breed or level of obedience, the avoidance training does make a difference and provides an important advocacy opportunity with the dog owners as well.
“Kiwi are especially attractive to dogs because they have a strong, distinctive smell. Kiwi find it hard to escape a persistent dog because they are of course famously non flying birds, who are ground dwellers.
“These important protection policies will ensure that our iconic national bird continues to thrive within our farm operations. As our national bird, kiwi hold a special place in the hearts of all New Zealanders, and it is incumbent on those of us who work in their habitat to do everything we can to ensure their protection. This policy will do just that.
“The policy has received the express endorsement of Kiwis for kiwi, the national charity that supports community-led and Māori-led kiwi conservation initiatives. They oversee the Kiwi Avoidance Training programme, and have endorsed our pro-active approach,” Williams said.
Peter Eagles, farm manager on Pāmu’s Mangatoa farm, says the policy fits with the company’s overall approach to sustainable management of the land.
“Ko matou te kaitiaki (we are the guardians) of this land and protecting the kiwis who also call this farm home, is an integral part of that guardianship ,” Eagles said.