Little blue penguin on nest
Image: Brent Tandy | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is concerned about the potential smuggling of little blue penguin/kororā in Hawkes Bay, after receiving information about the capture and removal of two birds from a burrow at Perfume Point in Napier.

Date:  30 January 2019

DOC Hawkes Bay Compliance Officer Rod Hansen said they had received information about the late-night raid which happened on 24 January 2019 at 10.30 pm.

He said a woman was observed holding a torch while two men used a crowbar to capture three of the penguins/kororā, one of which died in the raid and was left behind.

Two of the penguins/kororā were wrapped in towels and taken away by the group who departed in a small white four door car.

DOC suspects the crowbar was used to prise rocks off the penguin’s burrow, and then hook the birds out around the neck.

Rod Hansen said, “We are really concerned as we believe this might not be a one off. The very next day another penguin/kororā was found dead floating nearby and it appears it may have died from a head injury.

“We have no idea where these birds are being taken to and we are seeking CCTV footage from the surrounding area and hoping members of the public may be able to come forward with further information.”

Hansen said DOC is working with other government agencies and has interviewed a number of people about the issue.

“This is particularly disturbing as it is a very vulnerable time for these wee penguins/kororā. They moult from January through to March and stay in their burrows for protection. They are nocturnal animals, and the time this offence occurred in the evening, further suggests the poachers knew exactly when best to target the birds.”

Kororā are totally protected wildlife and people found committing offences may receive imprisonment not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding $100,000.00.

Anyone who has any information about this contact DOC on +64 6 834 3111 or 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Background information

The little blue penguin is distributed widely around the New Zealand coastline, however their Conservation status is: Declining

As their name suggests, the little penguin is the smallest species of penguin. They are also the most common penguin found around all coasts of New Zealand’s mainland and many of the surrounding islands. Primarily nocturnal on land, they are sometimes found close to human settlements and often nest under and around coastal buildings, keeping the owners awake at night with their noisy vocal displays.

They live up to their scientific name ‘Eudyptula’ meaning ‘good little diver’, as they are excellent pursuit hunters in shallow waters.

Adult birds weigh approximately 1 kg and measure in length only 300 mm.


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