Shelter from stoats
Little Blue Penguins may begin breeding in Whitireia Park thanks to some ace carpentry skills by Aotea College students.
Wellington Regional Council biodiversity adviser Janey Hilford said 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.’’
The Whiteria Park Restoration Group, with Wellington Regional Council support, has been working with the community for a decade to restore the park’s native flora and fauna, said Ms Hilford.
Part of the group’s plan is to create safe nesting areas for the little blue penguins.
‘‘The group has 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.’’
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 and are open at the bottom so the penguins can burrow into the ground.
‘‘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,’’ she said.
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.
Helping hand: Aotea College year 10 Outdoor Education students Bradley Johns, left, and Joshua Roughan, right, hammer together a penguin nesting box behind the dunes at Whitireia Park.