The North Island brown kiwi hatched in Pūkaha in May 2011. A rare genetic trait resulted in white plumage instead of the standard brown.
The Manukura was considered a “great blessing” from the local Rangitāne o Wairarapa tribe, which, according to the Wildlife Center, considered it a unifying symbol.
It even inspired a book by Joy Cowley, one of New Zealand’s most prolific children’s book authors, as well as a collection of other stuffed animals and memorabilia.
“Over the past ten years, I have delighted many people and shed light in her own way on the precarious situation of kiwis in the wild,” said Cathy Hokamaw, Operations Director at Wairrapa Conservation Department, who was the director of the Kiwi Conservation Department. The center is at Pūkaha when the manokura hatched. “We will be sorely missed.”
The statement said Manokura was taken to specialist veterinarians in early December after her caregivers noticed that she was not eating and losing weight.
Veterinarians have found an unfertilized egg that a kiwi cannot lay. Although the removal was successful, she required more operations and her health deteriorated over the ensuing weeks.
Pkaha CEO Emily Kurt added, “Manukura is truly part of the Pūkaha family, and we have always felt very fortunate that Manukura helps us tell the story of Aotearoa Conservation.” It was “one of the saddest days”. Wildlife Center was aware. Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand.
Although white kiwi is found in the wild, it is considered so rare that it is extremely unlikely to find it in its natural environment.
According to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, there are about 68,000 kiwis remaining – and 2% of unmanaged kiwis are lost every year. Threats include predators such as roosters, dogs, cats, and rodents.
Manukura is survived by his younger brother Mapuna, and is part of the Pūkaha captive breeding program.
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