Little Blue Penguin
Image: J. L Kendrick | DOC


DOC has issued a formal warning to the Alliance responsible for the development of the Wellington-Petone cycleway over penguin deaths.

Date:  15 November 2023

The Alliance responsible for the development of the Wellington-Petone cycleway has received a formal warning from DOC, following an investigation into the deaths of several korora/ little blue penguins during the construction.

The Alliance reported the deaths of the penguins, which occurred over a two-month period, to DOC. The warning relates to the death of one of the protected birds.

The investigation found none of the deaths were malicious or intentional in nature. The cases were all self-reported by the Alliance and highlighted the need for better protective measures for little blue penguins to be in place across the whole of the project.

It was established several deaths could not have been foreseen or prevented, due to penguins nesting in an area below the water line where nobody believed them to be. Further deaths occurred due to site checks not being carried out properly, but these did not amount to offending under the Wildlife Act.

The final penguin death was directly attributable to the failure to carry out required checks, and as such a single penguin was crushed when a rock was moved. The Alliance conceded all reasonable steps were not taken in this instance and issued a Stop Work notice pending an internal investigation.

In line with DOC’s enforcement guidelines, the Alliance has been issued with a formal warning for the bird’s death.

Matt Davis, DOC Principal Investigation Officer, says the investigation has resulted in the Alliance adopting stricter and more rigorous measures to better protect little blue penguins.

“DOC staff carried out a site visit and were extremely pleased to see the new measures in place,” says Matt. “The Alliance was fully cooperative with DOC’s investigation into the deaths and, although the deaths were all very disappointing, we note no further deaths have occurred since the implementation of the new measures.

“Although the death of any wildlife is regrettable, DOC is satisfied the Alliance has taken on board recommendations and learnings from these incidents. The Alliance has worked closely with DOC to resolve this matter and its staff have expressed genuine regret over the deaths.”


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