Namesake of kiwi Paora appreciates Miami Zoo's apology, wants New Zealand experts to offer assistance in improving care

The Miami zoo that sparked outrage with its kiwi encounters has apologised and permanently cancelled the experience.

Videos of people patting Paora the kiwi prompted concerns about its welfare - with the zoo now promising changes to the way it's cared for.

But the man who the bird is named after is worried they're not getting expert advice from Aotearoa. 

Videos shared online saw Zoo Miami go from promoting its kiwi encounter experience to apologising and promising change. 

"It was wrong. Quite frankly, it was indefensible," Zoo Miami communications director Ron Magill. 

For the last three years, Paora the kiwi has been exposed to physical encounters for at least 20 minutes a week

Videos posted by the zoo sparked outrage, with critics calling it shameful and wrong, but on Wednesday things changed drastically.

"It's ceased forever. It's not postponed, it's not delayed, it's not being reevaluated. It's done. It's never going to happen again," Magill said, 

The zoo has apologised, conceding it dropped the ball. 

"How would we in the US react if a Kiwi was mishandling a bald eagle and exploiting the bald eagle for financial gain? We would be livid." 

And the apology appears to have worked. 

"That's all we can really ask of them," said Prime Minister Chirs Hipkins. 

"A fantastic back down from the zoo - to make the right decision," National leader Christopher Luxon said.

But not everyone is convinced. Iwi leader and environmentalist Paora Haitana is the man Paora the kiwi is named after. 

"Once bitten, twice, twice shy."

The iwi leader and environmentalist, Haitana was there in Miami at the naming ceremony in 2019.

He said while he appreciates the apology, he's "not sure if Miami Zoo has the expert or qualified people to be able to deliver that for Paora the kiwi."

Zoo Miami said it will consult with a variety of groups to improve conditions, but Haitana wants more than that. 

"You need experts from New Zealand to go over there and to offer their assistance as to what is required for the kiwi to comfortably live out his next years. Not months. Years." 

It's a future Zoo Miami said it's committed to and is promising a complete overhaul of Paora's care and enclosure

"Anybody can make comments and say, 'I'm sorry', but it's what you do that counts," Magill said. 

And it's asking for time to prove they mean what they say.