Community gets behind little blue penguins

Friday 7 December 2012, 1:35PM
By Greater Wellington Regional Council


Little Blue Penguins may begin breeding in Whitireia Park thanks to some ace carpentry skills by some Aotea College students.

Wellington Regional Council biodiversity adviser Janey Hilford says little blue penguins are sometimes seen in the water around Whitireia Park.

“Porirua Harbour and Whitireia Park are right on the edge of the city and are important areas for native biodiversity. The penguins certainly seem to think so.”

Aotea College year 10 Outdoor Education students Bradley Johns, left, and Joshua Roughan, right, knock together a penguin nesting box behind the dunes at Whitireia Park.

The Whiteria Park Restoration Group, with support from Wellington Regional Council, has been working with the community for a decade to restore the native plants and animals in the park, says Ms Hilford.
Part of the group’s plan is to create safe nesting areas for the little blue penguins in the park.

“The group have been improving the potential nesting habitat, while a dedicated bunch of locals trap the stoats that can kill penguins and eat their eggs and chicks.

“The regional council has been working with students from Aotea College to build nesting boxes. Mainzeal in Porirua donated the timber, the group cut it up and the students nailed them together. It’s been a real community effort.”

The boxes were placed in the scrub behind the beach, as that is where the penguins are likely to nest.

The boxes provide them with shelter from the wind and weather, and are open at the bottom so the penguins can burrow into the ground beneath.

“You might wonder how the penguins find the boxes, but it’s a proven technique that is working well on the Wellington South Coast. If the penguins are swimming around in Porirua Harbour, they will probably come ashore to breed at some stage.”

Little blue penguins are the smallest penguin species in the world. Introduced predators such as stoats, cats and dogs major threats to the little blue penguin, as is loss of suitable nesting habitat.