You may have seen the Waiheke Island kororā/little penguins in the news recently due to the marina development at Pūtiki Bay/Kennedy Point.
Our dedicated Auckland staff have been responding to concerns from the public about the welfare of the kororā, so we thought we’d share a bit about their work.
Firstly, thank you to the Waiheke community who have raised concerns with our staff about the kororā at Pūtiki Bay/Kennedy Point. This issue has highlighted the passionate concerns from the community for the kororā and their welfare.
We’d also like to recognise the mahi that has been done by Mauri o Te Moana to monitor kororā and other native species since April – they are collecting important data. We’ve had questions about why our staff are not doing something similar, so we thought we would talk a bit about our role in relation to the marina development.
We administer the Wildlife Act 1953; , we are responsible for both granting wildlife permits (Section 53) and for ensuring compliance with the Wildlife Act (Section 63A).
This means that we make decisions to grant wildlife permits for works that may require such a permit. We are currently considering a permit application for works at Pūtiki/Kennedy Point to take place outside of the kororā breeding season, but no decision has been made yet.
We also investigate reports of offences against the Wildlife Act. What constitutes an offence is defined within the Wildlife Act (Section 63A).
What we don’t do
We do not administer the Resource Management Act, that is the role of Auckland Council who are the consenting authority for the Marina Development, and that consent manages many of the environmental effects associated with the works.
We do not conduct routine monitoring of wildlife on all development sites where protected species are present, as this would be an impossible task. There are over 3,000 threatened or at-risk species in Aotearoa.
What we are doing at Pūtiki Bay
In addition to our responsibilities under the Wildlife Act, here are some of the other things we are doing in regards to the marina development:
• We are regularly visiting the site to observe the works and to understand any concerns the public are relaying to us.
• We have technical specialists advising us about the welfare of the kororā.
• We are in regular contact with Auckland Council to ensure that the plans to mitigate any risk to kororā are being complied with.
• We are in contact with tangata whenua about the kororā.
• We are regularly updating our minister as to what is happening at site.
What we could do
Outside of the Wildlife Act, the species protection work we do as a conservation agency is generally broad-scale conservation with predominantly endangered species. We have to prioritise and make the best use of the resources we have.
Kororā are classified as an at-risk declining species, with an estimated population of 65,000. In order for Kororā to move to an at-risk recovering species, we would need to know more about them.
Waiheke is a good example of this, sporadic surveys have been undertaken over the years, but an island wide study has never been conducted, so we do not actually know much about the different kororā populations living across Waiheke, along with place-based variations associated with their habitat or foraging activities.
The best way we can currently support the community on Waiheke to protect kororā going forward is through improving our understanding of population-based species recovery work. Growing our knowledge of kororā provides the greatest tool for both habitat and species protection into the future.
We believe there are a number of groups on Waiheke Island who are interested in exploring collaborations around this, and we are keen to get in touch to discuss the opportunity and how we can assist.
If you have any further questions, please direct them to our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
What you can do
There are other ways you can help protect kororā, including:
• If you see a penguin, leave them alone and keep your distance.
• Put your dog on a leash around penguin areas.
• Keep your dog away from nests, and warn others nearby of their location.
• Donate your time or money to help conservation and penguin protection groups.
You can find out more about DOC’s role on this issue on our website: www.doc.govt.nz/kennedy-point-marina
Follow Auckland Council’s updates as the consenting authority.