Kiwi could eventually be wandering into the backyards of homes in Wellington under a plan launched on Monday.
The Capital Kiwi project has started with predator trapping around Makara, in the southwestern corner of the North Island.
The land borders Wellington suburbs, and kiwi could be released there in five years.
Ninety-year-old Makara local Ted Smith wants to see the birds roaming the hills in his lifetime.
"I'm sticking around for it... for another 20 years," he told Newshub.
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Capital Kiwi Founder Paul Ward hopes it won't take that long. His vision is to ready 23,000 hectares of land for kiwi to be re-introduced within five years.
"Our mission is to return the kiwi, return our taonga [treasure], back to the wild in Wellington."
Terawhiti Station was chosen as the ideal spot to launch this project because the land is considered prime kiwi habitat. Unfortunately, it's also prime habitat for pests.
"Hopefully if we can get rid of the pests then kiwis will love it just as much," says land owner Michael Grace.
The first step is eradicating possums, stoats and weasels - the biggest threat to young kiwi. More than 4000 traps were laid on Monday.
"We know we can do this, it's going to take a lot of hard work," says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester. "I hope we can see kiwi on the backdoor in Wellington."
That's the ultimate goal - re-introduced kiwi spilling into the suburbs.
"We've welcomed back the tui, we've welcomed back the kākā into our backyards," says Mr Ward.
A different kind of predator lurks there, namely domestic cats and dogs. Mr Ward says the survival of Capital Kiwi will require engaging with pet owners.