Penguin rehab and native forest restoration get helping hand


A long-running penguin rehab facility which has been hard hit by the tourism downturn, and work to restore native forest habitats in the Catlins are being supported through Jobs for Nature funding, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

Otago’s Penguin Place and The Hokonui Rūnanga Catlins Biodiversity Project will receive combined funding of around $3.5 million to create jobs and support local conservation goals.

“The Hokonui Rūnanga project is battling the destruction of native forest due to pests such as possums, stoats and rats. The project’s work includes pest control over a huge area of land from Papatowai, with its stands of matai, rimu and totara through to the Otago-Southland boundary.

“A$2.8m investment will see trainees upskilled in a variety of tasks, including predator trapping work, plant identification and 4WD training, with the expectation some will continue on into other roles in other projects. 

“Having people on the ground working to protect these habitats means we have a far greater chance of maintaining the local biodiversity and ensuring the survival of species which are unique to New Zealand’s landscape.

“Penguin Place is a private conservation reserve set up 36 years ago to help save hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins from extinction.

“Previously self-funded - through tourist contributions - it has cared for more than 130 of the nationally endangered birds every year, successfully returning 95 per cent of them back into the wild

“However the decline in visitor numbers since COVID-19 has had a massive impact, so we’re providing $633,000 to help the team with monitoring three important beach habitats which all support breeding colonies.

“Both of these projects are great examples of how the Jobs for Nature programme is helping to create enduring conservation outcomes across the board. Community efforts get a much-needed boost, while local people gain employment, and become skilled in practices that will directly benefit New Zealand’s conservation efforts now and in the future.," Kiri Allan said.