Buster the TV Star

At the end of last year the Trust spent a day in the bush with a TVNZ film crew shooting an advertisement for Xero, the accounting software company. Buster is the star of the advert, he was translocated to his new home in 2021 from the Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare which is our partner project with the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust. Together we have been breeding kiwi in the stunning Rotokare Sanctuary to help repopulate other areas of Taranaki with this threatened species. Our Trustee and volunteer Sue Hardwick Smith is the other star of the advert, as she is not only an accredited kiwi handler but spend many years as treasurer of the organisation so is very familiar with the Xero software. Her team mates were volunteer Jenny Oakley and our Community Kiwi Range Jess Fancy, both accredited kiwi handlers, son George came along for the day to assist with logistics and transport. Sue and Jess spent eight hours the day prior hunting in the bush east of Eltham for three kiwi that all required a health check and transmitter change. At the end of the day they had a weak signal on two and the other one was missing in action. The next morning it was a 5am start, in the car on the way to the site Trust Manager Celine Filbee asked Jess for a score on whether they would catch a kiwi that, one to ten, Jess replied “to be totally honest with you I am not very hopeful”, not the most auspicious start to the day!

The shoot had already been a long and protracted process having being scuppered by Covid twice previously, and it was a serious logistical exercise to get the six strong team from TVNZ and Xero into the bush with all their equipment juggling social distancing. Jess and Jen headed into the bush with their telemetry gear about six am. Sue, George and Celine met the visitors at the gate and filming started with Sue traveling in on her quad with a stunning backdrop of Mounga Taranaki who had graced us with his presence for the morning. Crew and gear were them ferried in to the end of the track, we were just heading  to the hut on foot and the radio crackled, exciting times, Jess and Jen had caught Buster,  it was only 7.15 in the morning, what a crack team! So the cameraman got the goodness and all of NZ now have the opportunity to see him on the Xero adverts. The rest of the morning was spent filming other aspects of the advert with Buster safety back in his burrow not really knowing he would be a TV Star. The Trust was thrilled with the opportunity to make the advert and are very thankful for the years free subscription Xero have given it in acknowledgement of the week of man hours it took to plan and execute the day.

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