The kiwi is one of the most iconic symbols of New Zealand and thanks to the support of an international hotel company, the flightless bird has been given a new lease of life.
Swiss-Belhotel is excited to announce its partnership with Experience Purangi – a Taranaki based organisation that protects our native kiwi and is working tirelessly to stop the decline in the species’ population.
The hotel group will be specifically sponsoring the royally connected “Tihei”, the infamous kiwi that gained international exposure when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Rotorua. Tihei hatched in Rotorua when the couple were visiting the tourist destination as part of their New Zealand tour. She was one of the two birds the royal couple met and held, helping to raise the profile of the important work being done to protect our national bird.
Tihei was named by the Duke of Sussex and comes from the Māori phrase ‘Tihei mauri ora’ which translates to ‘the sneeze of life’. While Tihei spent her early stages in Rotorua, she was recently transported to Taranaki where Executive Director Oliver Faull and his daughter Scarlett were on hand to assist with her release into the wild. It is here that she will be closely monitored to track her progress and ensure her safe protection.
Purangi is home to more than 4,000 western brown kiwis and this number is growing each year thanks to the organisation's work. Experience Purangi’s ongoing predator control programme has helped see a nine per cent increase in the kiwi population. Nationally, it is estimated the population of kiwi is in decline by two per cent each year.
Swiss-Belhotel Hotel Chairman and President Gavin Faull is on the board of the Purangi Kiwi Trust, so it was a natural fit for the company to sponsor Tihei and support Experience Purangi with the resources they need, in order to operate the transmitter and monitor the kiwi’s progression. Faull was born and bred in Taranaki and is a patron of many businesses in the area.
"Being able to support such a special cause and one that is committed to protecting our national bird is something myself and the Swiss-Belhotel team are extremely proud of. We feel an immense sense of protection over Tihei, especially after her international notoriety! We wanted to help Experience Purangi provide her with the best care possible to help the kiwi population grow,” says Faull.
The partnership will assist Experience Purangi in its management of breeding, releasing and monitoring Tihei as she grows into adulthood. The hotel will be involved in all aspects of Tihei's progress – from the release of the bird (which took place in early February), partaking in three monthly transmitter changing processes, visiting and monitoring the bird as well as receiving regular updates on its progress, which will be shared with Swiss-Belhotel’s wider community.
Swiss-Belhotel is making a conscious effort to focus on the environment, and supporting a local initiative that protects something so uniquely kiwi was a cause they were keen to get behind.
Globally, the company supports Sala Bai, a hotel school based in Siem Reap, Cambodia, specifically developed to create careers in the industry for underprivileged Cambodians.