Creating a protected coastal habitat for kororā

Creating a protected coastal habitat for kororā

A kororā conservation management plan covering the Seawall and immediate surroundings at Kaiti Beach is now in place.

Eastland Port engaged local ecologist, Steve Sawyer to develop the penguin management plan after several kororā were discovered during the rebuild of the Seawall last year.

Local iwi and hapū, Whaia Titirangi, Department of Conservation, Gisborne District Council and Eastland Port have reviewed the plan which includes multiple actions to enhance the seawall habitat and protect the kororā.

Enhancing the penguin habitat

A penguin exclusion fence will be installed to prevent kororā from entering the southern log yard and interacting with port operations. The fence will also act as a barrier for ferrets which are known predators of kororā

Several protected breeding/nesting burrows will be installed on the seawall which will be surrounded by low growing coastal plants and provide additional shade and shelter to prevent visiting kororā from over-heating in the summer months.

Accessibility at the bottom of the rock wall is to be improved to ensure penguins are able to get up the seawall around boulders easily and find the nesting boxes and burrows.

Predator control

Steve Sawyer highlights in his experience that kororā mortalities in Tairāwhiti have largely been attributed to both domestic dogs and ferrets. This pattern is recorded at other sites around New Zealand also.

The nesting area on the seawall is now largely protected from dogs behind a security fence. Signage will also be erected to raise awareness about kororā and encourage dog owners to keep their dog on a lead around the seawall area.

With help from Whaia Titirangi, predator traps will be deployed and monitored along the Seawall, Titirangi and Kaiti Beach. Whaia Titirangi are a group of passionate kaitiakitanga aiming to restore Titirangi.

Ongoing monitoring

The plan recognised that annual population monitoring of kororā would be vital in evaluating the success of the conservation efforts.

A specialist dog and handler will be brought in to undertake kororā surveys along the Seawall between September and October annually. Locations of individual or nesting pairs amongst the rock wall structure and dedicated penguin boxes will be recorded with GPS.

A report will be produced annually and will include a summary of the number of pairs, breeding success, chick productivity to fledging, and include plans for the following season.

Looking forward

Eastland Port Infrastructure Manager Marty Bayley said, “Through Steve Sawyer’s experience with successfully establishing a kororā colony locally, informed advice and input from local iwi and hapū, Department of Conservation, and various stakeholders, we have come up with a comprehensive penguin management plan to protect this special taonga.

“This is a long-term commitment and our shared goal is to implement a protected coastal habitat which will support visiting and breeding kororā now and into the future.

“We are excited about the prospects of this project and hope to report positive results moving forward.”

We need your help to protect the kororā

Kororā mortalities in our region have been largely attributed to domestic dog attacks.

Here are a few ways you can help when walking on Kaiti Beach:

  • Keep your dog on a leash at the port end of Kaiti Beach
  • Keep your dog away from the rock wall
  • If you see a penguin that is injured, or for any other conservation emergency, contact the DOC HOTline on 0800 362 468