Onerahi Kids On Limestone

The school and students of Onerahi Primary School have a special link with the island. The material here is largely from the students themselves.

Renay Brown is the teacher coordinating OKOL for Onerahi Primary School.


Big Bad Baldrick the Kick-butt Kiwi and the OKOL Kiwi Kids

Last week I needed to catch Baldrick the kiwi, one of the four adult kiwi that live on Matakohe-Limestone Island. I needed to put a new radio-transmitter on her leg, which I do every year because that is how long the batteries last.  Baldrick’s mate is called Glen and he was busy sitting on Baldrick’s egg so the time was perfect to catch her.  Baldrick and Glen live in the bush around the old cement ruins and defend their territory against the other adult pair on the island, Kahui Whetu and Sir Ed.  Basically the two pairs have settled on having a half of the island each, which is a pretty fair deal.  Kiwis are good like that.

To catch Baldrick I needed some extra special help from kids with super sensitive hearing and expert kiwi tracking skills… and not just any old kids with super sensitive hearing and expert kiwi tracking skills. I needed some OKOLs, which as every kiwi ranger knows stands for “Onerahi Kids on Limestone”.  OKOLs have a special connection with Matakohe-Limestone Island and can always be counted on in a tight situation. I put out a special OKOL alert and Zoe Conradie, Isabella Remmerswaal, Xaria Wellington-Janout, Paige Kean and Joel Secker answered the challenge along with their teacher and trained kiwi tamer Issie Arkwright.

We met down at the Onerahi yacht club and jumped in the boat and sped over to the Island, and tied up on the old wharf. As we needed to be very sneaky we all put our sneakers on, and snuck past the oyster catchers on the wharf and the sheep in the paddock and got ready to find our girl Baldrick.  We pulled out the kiwi radio-tracking gear and tuned it to Baldrick’s transmitter frequency and set about trying to figure out where she was. Each of our adult kiwi is wearing a radio-transmitter that sends a signal to the tracking gear.  When the aerial is pointing in the direction of the kiwi the tracking gear lets out a loud beep and when it is pointing in the wrong direction the beep is quiet.  Luckily the OKOLs were there as my ears are a bit old and ragged from listening to too much classical music. The OKOL’s were right on the money expertly tracking Baldrick to a patch of bush by the old cement furnaces.

OKOTWTL - Onerahi Kids on their way to Limestone Kiwi hunting with the special tracking device


We noticed a big mound of dead grass up in the bush about the size of a giant Galapagos tortoise.  We could see a little entrance in the grass so it looked as though Baldrick had decided to sleep there the night.  Funnily enough the kiwi will choose a new hidey hole almost every night, unless they are nesting.  When they are nesting the dad will sit on the egg pretty much non-stop for about three months, only getting off at night for a few hours to feed. Kiwi dads are awesome, but so are kiwi mums as they have to lay such a huge egg! The OKOLs got in position and I snuck up to the hidey hole and looked in. Sure enough there was Baldrick staring back at me. I stuck my hand in and she let out a huge growl, similar to the growl I let out if someone wakes me up in the middle of the night. I held her very carefully by the legs and nestled her into my vest so she could go back to sleep.

I very carefully removed her old radio-transmitter and attached her new one.  I also weighed her and measured her bill to check on her health.  Baldrick had obviously been eating flat out as she weighed almost 3.5kg and her bill was almost half a foot long!  That’s massive!  I think she got a little bit annoyed with me doing measurements and attaching the transmitter so she did an enormous poo on my freshly cleaned vest. Doh!

Zoe, Isabella, Ms Arkwright, Xaria, Paige and
Joel with Big Bad Baldrick the Kick-butt Kiwi


Once we had finished checking her we put Baldrick back in her hole with her brand new radio-transmitter. We then got a photo with the “No Dogs” sign, because every OKOL knows that dogs are not allowed onto Matakohe-Limestone Island. Even a seemingly harmless little dog will turn into a crazed killer if it gets a whiff of a smelly kiwi.  We know that Baldrick will probably live for 50 years happy and safe on the island as there are no dogs, and her chicks will have a long life too as we keep stoats off the island, which kill 95% of young kiwi chicks. I would like to thank the OKOLs for their help with finding Baldrick and their excellent work in spreading the message about Matakohe-Limestone Island and the very special kiwi that live here.

Ranger Ben and the OKOL team.