Yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho
Image: Freya Hjorvarsdottir | DOC


Hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin are a taoka, treasured across New Zealand/Aotearoa. They are rapidly declining in abundance in part of their range. Action is needed to avoid their extinction on our mainland.


Hoiho are only found in New Zealand. There are two distinct populations. The northern population breed on mainland South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura and outliers. The southern population breed on the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands/Motu Maha and Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku.

The northern population of hoiho are rapidly declining in abundance. Their plight requires immediate action to avoid their extinction on the mainland and increase our understanding of the reasons for their decline. The status of the southern population remains largely unknown.

Latest strategy and action plan

Yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho
Image: Freya Hjorvarsdottir | DOC

The Hoiho Governance and Technical Groups have finalised a strategy to support the health of hoiho - Te Kaweka Takohaka mō te Hoiho. This document is supported by a 5-year action plan, Te Mahere Rima Tau.

We consulted with stakeholders on the draft plan, which completed in September 2019. The Hoiho Governance Group and the Hoiho Technical Group analysed all submissions received through the consultation and made changes to both Te Kaweka Takohaka mō te Hoiho, and Te Mahere Rima Tau.

A summary of submissions, and recommendations following the analysis of feedback on the draft strategy and action plan are available below:

Annual implementation and review

Te Mahere Rima Tau supports the aims of Te Kaweka Takohaka mō te Hoiho and will continually evolve. An annual review process will take place following each hoiho season. 

Te Kaweka Takohaka mō te Hoiho will be reviewed in full in five years unless events warrant an earlier review.

Strategic direction

Relationship between Te Kaweka Takohaka mō te Hoiho and supporting documents | See larger (PNG, 37K)

To support the health and wellbeing of hoiho across all the environments they live in, the strategy has been developed using an integrated, holistic approach.

Our efforts focus on protecting and sustaining hoiho and their habitat. This includes recognising the impact of human activities and collectively taking action for the benefit of hoiho. 

The vision and goals help guide the thinking and priorities of the governance and technical groups to achieve this.


Hoiho should be able to go to sea to feed on abundant and good quality kai, and return safely to the whenua to breed, feed their young and socialise without facing human-induced threats.  

We are guided by tikaka and the best available information in how we act to enable hoiho to thrive and keep hoiho safe throughout their natural range.

5-year goals

  • Halt the decline of the northern population of hoiho.
  • Implement a monitoring programme to assess population dynamics and threats for the southern population.

20-year goals

  • The northern and southern populations of hoiho are resilient, healthy and stable.
  • Both populations maintain their geographical distribution and genetic diversity.


Te Kaweka Takohaka mō te Hoiho establishes the proactive steps we can take to support hoiho health and minimise impacts of human activities. It provides direction and guidance for the four key partners and others involved in hoiho conservation. It sets out the strategic priorities to address the gap between where we are now (current state) and where we would like to be (future state). It is divided into five overarching themes.

Te Mahere Rima Tau outlines the actions under each theme to help achieve the strategic priorities.

Additional supporting documents, typically in the form of protocols, provide detailed guidance for managing specific issues such as disease response.

About the partnership

In 2018, a partnership was formed between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, DOC/Te Papa Atawhai, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust/Te Tautiaki Hoiho and Fisheries New Zealand/Tini a Tangaroa. These organisations each have a key stake in leading hoiho conservation.

Representatives from each organisation established a hoiho governance framework. The Hoiho Governance Group provides strategic direction, coordination and support for the overall recovery programme. It also directs the Hoiho Technical Group.

The Hoiho Technical Group developed the new strategy Te Kaweka Takohaka mō te Hoiho and a supporting action plan Te Mahere Rima Tau. The group also provides technical advice to support day-to-day operations.

This text uses the Kāi Tahu dialect.

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