Protecting the little blue penguin
As part of the development, Napier Port has developed the first on-port sanctuary of its kind in New Zealand to protect the kororā/little blue penguin, an at-risk and declining species.
A few years ago Napier Port undertook its first penguin survey and found around 70 pairs of kororā nesting in and around the revetment walls at Napier Port. Today we have around 91 pairs.
Despite being an industrial area, the port provides as safe space for penguins as it is free from threats such as dogs, cats and humans.
The sanctuary has been developed with the help of kororā expert of 30 years’ Professor John Cockrem from Massey University.
It is being used to protect penguins that are nesting in the wall where our new wharf is being built and forms part of a wider Avian Management Plan we have prepared with mana whenua as kaitiaki of the area, the Department of Conservation and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
Longer-term we believe the sanctuary – a protected breeding, monitoring and research centre, which will be used by Professor Cockrem – will help to boost the local population and contribute to the international body of knowledge on the species.
The nesting boxes used are shown to have greater breeding success rates than natural burrows. They also allow research to take place into things like feeding patterns and survival rates which can help conservation work.