The Project

The Project

Our aim is to protect kiwi and other wildlife on the Russell Peninsula.  We do this by controlling the introduced predators that kill kiwi and by improving the health of our native forests and wetlands.  This work can only continue with the help of the people in the community and those who visit this beautiful place.

The Russell Kiwi Protection Project began in 2016 and has already achieved some major goals:

  • Stoats are being controlled on over 2,000 hectares. This is vital because they can kill 95% of kiwi chicks.
  • 550 hectares of high value habitat is being intensively controlled for rats on both private and public lands.
  • Kiwi call counts have increased.  It is estimted that the kiwi population has increased from 500 birds in 2016 to 650 birds in 2020.
  • More than fifty landowners are part of the project.
  • Two local trapping contractors have been employed.
  • More and more volunteers are getting on board. We help set up and maintain rat control, participate in annual kiwi call counts, monitor other birds, build trap boxes and kiwi nest boxes and organise community advocacy and events.
  • Generous donations have enabled us to buy ten infra-red trail cameras to monitor kiwi and predators and give landowners the chance to see “their” kiwi
  • Juvenile kiwi are often seen on the cameras, showing they are surviving their first, vulnerable year.

Being a peninsula is a major advantage for Russell Kiwi Protection.  We are connected to the rest of Northland by only a narrow neck of land so if we can get predators numbers to low levels it will be difficult for them to reinvade.

How the Job Gets Done!

Trapping Stoats and other Mustelids

Without predator control stoats will kill 95% of kiwi chicks.  To reduce this we have lines of traps running across the Russell Peninsula, from coast to coast, in a pattern that maximises the chance of catching stoats.  Each trap is checked at least once a month by a professional trapper and all ‘catches’ are recorded so we can follow trends in pest numbers and assess the effectiveness of the project.  To achieve the best results possible the traps are regularly serviced to make sure they are working correctly.

Rat control

Rats eat fruit, seeds, invertebrates, reptiles and small birds.  To give the forest a chance and ensure there is food for kiwi, rats need to be controlled. Rat control is more labour-intensive and costly than mustelid control.  This is mainly because a rat’s territory covers only about 100 meters but a stoat may range over a kilometre.  So, more rat traps are needed to ensure there is a trap in each rat’s territory.  Lines of rat traps or bait stations must be no more than 100m apart and at every 50m along each line.   Russell Kiwi Protection has the skills and experience to help landowners plan their own rat-control program.

Contact the Project Coordinator, Eion Harwood, for advice. Ph 021-1731130

Future Plan

We want to:

  • Increase stoat control from 2,000 hectares to 3,000 hectares by 2021
  • Continue intensive predator control in our “Russell Eco-Sanctuary” and create a buffer around it to reduce incursions.
  • Increase the kiwi population from 650 to 1,500 birds.
  • Enable even more landowners to become involved with predator control on their properties.
  • Continue to build our base of enthusiastic volunteers.
  • Make Russell Peninsula “possum-free” by using the latest available technology from ZIP (Zero invasive Pests Organisation).
  • Apply for popokatea (whiteheads) and/or toutouwai (North Island robins) to be translocated to the “Russell Eco-Sanctuary”.
  • Provide safe habitats for birds that may fly across from “Project Islandsong”.


It would be wonderful if toutouwai (North Island robin)  could return to Russell Peninsula.

The Kiwi Coast

Russell Kiwi Protection is part of something bigger named ‘Kiwi Coast Project Northland’.  Along the 195 km of Northland’s east coast from Bream Head to the Aupouri Peninsula, over 75 community groups are working towards increasing kiwi numbers and, ultimately, creating NZ’s first “kiwi corridor”.  Russell Peninsula is central to this community initiative



Fantail/piwakawaka are particularly vulnerable to predation when they are nesting.
A magnificent Tui


Our funding comes from private landowners, public donations, the Northland Regional Council, Kiwis for Kiwis, the Department of Conservation, and Foundation North.  Volunteers donate their time, energy and skills.