John Key and Helen Clark joining forces for national kiwi charity

Helen Clark and John Key.
Helen Clark and John Key. Photo credit: Grabb Photography

Former New Zealand Prime Ministers John Key and Helen Clark have teamed up as patrons for the Kiwis for kiwi endowment fund.

Kiwis for kiwi is a national charity that works in partnership with the Department of Conservation and local communities to protect the country's kiwi population.

The charity launched its endowment fund on Tuesday which is aiming to raise $20 million by 2026 to continue the work.

To mark the fund, patrons Key and Clark released a kiwi known as 'Ardern', along with six other juvenile kiwis into a predator-managed forest in Hawkes Bay.

"Ardern hatched on the 17th of October last year, which was election day," Clark said.

"The kiwi husbandry team at the National Kiwi Hatchery decided to name the bird Ardern in honour of Jacinda's victory. So, for me, it's special to bring this bird back to the forest it belongs to."

The former Labour leader said she and Key had put aside their political differences for the patronage.

"It's always great for people to look for things that unite them. The kiwi unites Kiwis - literally, it's Kiwis for kiwi. There's so much we can all agree on, regardless of what our political views are."

Key agreed.

"It's a nice touch, really, having two former Prime Ministers involved. We represent the country and the kiwi represents us, so it's a nice project to be a part of."

Executive director of Kiwis for kiwi Michelle Impey said she was delighted to have them both on board.

"Kiwi conservation is incredibly important work to the overall identity of New Zealand, and Kiwis for kiwi is proud to work alongside such passionate organisations and individuals," she said.

"To have two former Prime Ministers from different sides of the political spectrum support us on this really validates the work that we and our partners do day in and day out. We're really excited about what the Kiwis for kiwi Endowment Fund will allow us to be able to do in the future."