Legal Action To Protect Pūtiki Penguins
On 30 March 2022, Kennedy Point Marina Development Ltd (KPMDL) was granted authority to capture, handle and release kororā by the Department of Conservation under the Wildlife Act 1953, in order to make way for the construction of a marina.
On the 26th April, Forest & Bird applied to the New Zealand High Court for a judicial review regarding the Department of Conservation’s approval of a Wildlife Permit, relating to kororā at Kennedy Point in Pūtiki Bay on Waiheke Island.
Forest & Bird believes the Department of Conservation made errors in issuing this authority, with ongoing construction activities at the breakwater inconsistent with the protections that kororā should be legally afforded under the Wildlife Act.
Forest & Bird has also requested interim orders for a stop-work to halt construction while the judicial review is completed.
“The Wildlife Act protects kororā and their nests from disturbance,” says Nicola Toki, Chief Executive of Forest & Bird.
“But footage and photos captured at the construction site, as well as eyewitness accounts, reveal removal of large boulders in the vicinity of burrows, among other actions that are disturbing the resident kororā. Our primary concern is the welfare of these penguins.”
“We stand alongside Protect Pūtiki, kaitiaki from Ngāti Pāoa, and the local community on Waiheke, who have been rallying to protect kororā at Pūtiki Bay for more than a year."
Expert and on-the-ground accounts provided in affidavits outline the significant disturbance to kororā and supports Forest & Bird’s case that the authority should not have been granted.
Kororā, or little penguins, are classified as ‘At Risk – Declining'. The population of kororā living in the Kennedy Point breakwater is regionally significant: it is the largest known colony on Waiheke Island, and one of the largest in the inner Hauraki Gulf.
“The plight of the kororā on Waiheke highlights the urgent need for an overhaul of the Wildlife Act, which, at nearly 70 years old, is no longer fit-for-purpose,” says Ms Toki.
“Reformed conservation laws must have nature at their heart and provide strong protection for our taonga species.”