Eat a kiwi, save a kiwi: A twist on Easter tradition
Around 27 kiwis are killed by pests and predators every week, which is about 1,400 birds a year. At that rate, kiwis could disappear from mainland New Zealand within our lifetime.
We found that pretty eye-opening and as proud Kiwis, we want to do everything we can to help protect our national icon. So we used the launch of our first ever Easter egg, the Whittaker’s Chocolate Kiwi, as an opportunity to partner with New Zealand charity ‘Save the Kiwi’.
How our Easter egg became a bird
Our Chocolate Lovers know we like to get creative. So we felt they deserved an Easter offering that was both iconic to New Zealand and a little bit out of the ordinary.
After a decade of tinkering about with different ideas, our unique take on the traditional Easter bunny turned into a delightful chocolate kiwi.
As it turns out designing a kiwi-shaped chocolate mould is not easy! We had countless goes at it until Andrew and Brian got it just right.
But once our kiwis were looking truly kiwi-like, we made them in two of our most popular flavours:
Then put them to work saving the real thing.
How we support Save the Kiwi
Save the Kiwi work with community-led conservation groups, iwi, DOC, landowners, businesses and everyday New Zealanders across the country to grow the population of our iconic native bird.
Their mission is to halt the 2% annual decline in our kiwi population and turn it into 2% annual growth.
To help them get there, every Whittaker’s Chocolate Kiwi sold donates to their mission. Since our launch in 2016, we’ve donated $400,000 and counting!
The money funds a program called ‘Operation Nest Egg’, which carefully finds, selects and collects eggs and young chicks from their burrows in the wild. They’re then taken to a safe place so they can hatch and grow until they are about 1kg in weight and big enough to defend themselves from predators like stoats.
Once the kiwi chicks reach this size, they are released back into the wild to hopefully raise eggs and chicks of their own. The chances of a kiwi chick surviving outside this program are just 5%. But the chances of it surviving if nurtured by Operation Nest Egg are a much higher at 65%.
Our donations have rescued 264 kiwi eggs and chicks from the wild as part of the Operation Nest Egg program.
In 2017 we were lucky enough to visit Motutapu Island in Auckland harbour with Save the Kiwi. We saw an Operation Nest Egg chick we’d helped to save that year get released into the wild. The chick was released by Sir Graham Henry and seemed very pleased to explore his new home on Motutapu.
Where can I buy a Whittaker’s Chocolate Kiwi?
Our kiwis are sold in stores at Easter time, but our Auckland and Christchurch Airport Duty Free stores usually carry them all year round.
If you’re a fan of wildlife-themed chocolate (who isn’t!) be sure to check out Tweats. Our Creamy Milk Mini Slabs with Popping Candy are moulded in the shape of some of our favourite New Zealand native animals:
- the Tuatara
- Morepork, and
Five fast kiwi facts
- Kiwi have nostrils at the end of their beaks and have evolved to have an impressive sense of smell. As a kiwi walks, it taps the ground with its beak, moving the soil and sniffing loudly. It can locate an earthworm up to three centimeters underground!
- A favourite treat of kiwi is the native New Zealand worm. Delicious.
- Kiwi lay huge eggs. In proportion to its body, the female kiwi lays an egg bigger than almost any other bird. In fact, kiwi eggs are six-times as big as normal for a bird of its size.
- Kiwi make their homes in many different environments, from snowy mountain tussock lands to coastal sand dunes, from mossy forest floors to rough farmed grasslands.
- In 2019, it’s estimated there are only 68,000 kiwis left, and the population is steadily falling. Kiwi are threatened by stoats, cats, dogs and other predators and loss of their natural habitats due to humans.
How can I help protect kiwi?
There are lots of ways you can get involved to help save our national icon, like:
- volunteering time
- donating money, and
- making sure your pets don’t hurt kiwi.
You can find more information and ideas at the Save the Kiwis website.