TO CELEBRATE its 99th birthday the iconic Bulford kiwi was given a new coat of chalk.

More than 200 volunteers gathered on Friday to carry out the work which was overseen by Richard Osgood, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation archaeologist.

Led by the New Zealand High Commissioner, Lieutenant General (Retd) Sir Jerry Mateparae a team from the High Commission was joined by soldiers from 3rd (UK) Division Signal Regiment, personnel from Landmarc Support Services, volunteers from Operation Nightingale and local conservation groups.

New Zealand High Commissioner, Lieutenant General (Retd) Sir Mateparae said: “The links between the UK and New Zealand are still strong and it has been touching to see so many people involved in looking after and protecting the kiwi for generations to come.

It has been great to be involved in helping to protect and restore such a significant monument.”

A Chinook helicopter from 18 Squadron based at RAF Odiham flew in and began ferrying the 100 tons of chalk spoil from the recently constructed tank washing point on the Bulford Droveway onto the site.

Volunteers then started work spreading the chalk across the monument which covers 6,100 square metres and despite temperatures of 26°C the task was completed in under two hours.

It was the Kiwi's first new dressing in 30 years.

Colonel(Retd) Danny Fisher who commanded 249 Signal Squadron and did the original restoration and chalking was amongst the volunteers on Friday for the latest restoration work.

He said: “I can’t believe that we did this off the cuff thirty years ago and it is still going. We were waiting to go to Turkey and the kiwi annoyed me, it was totally overgrown. So I got the boys a few beers and we got on with it, no Chinook though, we brought up all the chalk in sandbags.”

The Kiwi was created in 1919 by soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who were awaiting repatriation following the end of First World War.

After the war was over, the New Zealand soldiers were eager to return home, but no troop ships were available. In the wake of riots by disaffected soldiers, their commanding officers decided that the troops should be kept busy carving an enormous Kiwi into the chalk of the hill.

Archaeologist Richard Osgood said: “Thank you to everyone who has worked together to get the kiwi looking its best again. It has been a truly collaborative effort and we are also grateful for the involvement and support of the High Commissioner of New Zealand.”