Three kororā swimming
Image: Janice McKenna | ©

Introduction

DOC's response to concerns about the welfare of kororā/little blue penguin during the Kennedy Point marina development.

Highlights

We have received a number of enquiries from concerned members of the public and protesters regarding the welfare of kororā during the Auckland Council consented marina development at Kennedy Point on Waiheke Island.

We are visiting the site regularly to ensure the safety of the kororā during the development and will maintain regular contact with tangata whenua – iwi, hapū, whānau and the community.

Date:  30 March 2022

Background

In May 2017, Auckland Council gave resource consent to Kennedy Point Boatharbour Ltd to build a floating marina at Kennedy Point, Waiheke Island. Subsequent public protests arose, and local community groups and Ngāti Paoa Trust Board took the case to the Environment Court. In 2018 the Court upheld the decision to grant the consent.

Construction began in March 2021 and reignited significant opposition.

Concerns have been raised about the perceived danger the development could have for kororā who have burrows in the existing breakwater.

The Kennedy Point Marina Development Ltd (a subsidiary of Kennedy Point Boatharbour Ltd), under Auckland Council consent conditions, has engaged a wildlife consultant. They will plan and undertake penguin monitoring, and prepare a penguin management plan for any kororā found during breakwater disturbance. This plan has been prepared and updated by an ecologist from Boffa Miskell.

Kennedy Point is not the only place kororā breed on Waiheke. Numerous other colonies are known on Waiheke and on other Hauraki Gulf islands. Dogs and vehicles are a significant threat to the kororā population.

Kororā often breed in man-made structures and around ports. Here they are breeding in a breakwater built in the 1990s.

Kororā observed at the site appear to be in good health, behaving naturally, and are successfully transiting the construction zone. DOC received a report of a dead kororā at Kennedy Point on 11 November. Necropsy results show the kororā had died from a dog bite.

Kennedy Point Marina Development Ltd has submitted a Wildlife Act Authority application to DOC seeking permission to catch and handle any kororā on the construction site. The Wildlife Act Authority has been approved.

DOC’s role

The resource consent to build the marina was approved by Auckland Council and does not involve DOC. We do not have a legal role in the consent process. However, we are committed to ensuring the kororā are safe.

The developer has asked for authority under the Wildlife Act to catch and move penguins that may be present where rocks need moving to place two piles. This would be undertaken when penguins are not breeding or moulting.

We acknowledge concerns that kororā will be disturbed by the construction. We have assessed the risk as low, and our staff are working with the developers and Council to ensure the best outcome for kororā.

Our staff have visited the site multiple times and deem the risk to the kororā at this stage as low. DOC science and technical advice is kororā are robust birds and tolerant of disturbance, as evidenced by them being present in highly modified areas with significant human activity.

More information about kororā/little blue penguin

What's next

We will work closely with tangata whenua – iwi, hapū and whānau to continually address evolving issues that relate to our role.

Given the relevant resource consents have been granted for the marina development to proceed, DOC has made a decision to grant a Wildlife Authority with special conditions, to ensure the penguins’ welfare.

Permit conditions include construction activity only occurring when the kororā are not nesting or moulting, the developer informing DOC staff so they can advise during any handling of kororā and only two approved handlers working with the kororā.

We monitored the work related to the wildlife authority via live video stream as it gave us good visibility of the ecologists supervising the works, and DOC will be present for all remaining work.

When analysing the risks this activity would have on the kororā in the area we concluded that the Wildlife Act Authority will in fact ensure the physical safety of the penguins, support the population with the addition of new nesting boxings and would be in the best interests of their welfare.

We have also considered the fact that without the Wildlife Act Authority, the works could proceed and require the use of ‘passive eviction’ where the developer would need to wait for the kororā to move out of the way as rocks were removed.  This method is considered a higher risk to the kororā and we have an obligation to require the safest method to protect them.

Related documents:

Contact

The consent for the development has been granted by Auckland Council. For more information see Explainer: Kennedy Point marina consent on the Auckland Council website.

Email Auckland Council to give feedback and/or express any concerns you may have regarding the marina construction.

If you would like to get in touch with DOC email kennedypointkorora@doc.govt.nz.

Media releases

Back to top