Wainui School built Penguin Homes

New homes for blue penguins

New homes for blue penguins

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS: Wainui School’s room five children (from left) Elena Frota 8, Ivy McMillan 8, Tay Barton 9 and Jackson Wilson 9, hope the penguin population will increase and they no longer need to live under human houses. Picture by Liam Clayton

LITTLE blue penguins now have 11 new homes to choose from on Wainui Beach.

Built by a class of Wainui School children, they will be placed in locations along the beach where the children can monitor them.

Wainui School teacher Nic Shand was inspired after a work colleague found little blue penguins living under their house.

His class of 27 children, aged 8-9 years, built boxes adapted from plans designed by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

“The kids were fascinated by the little birds. They studied and reported on their history, behaviour, food sources, habitat threats and need for protection.

“They loved the hands-on project because they were creating a meaningful product.

“We hope our project will increase the security and survival of the little blue penguins on Wainui Beach and will help to educate the community,” he said.

The whole school’s topic right now is — actions speak louder than words.

“We didn’t want to just talk about our concerns for the penguins, we wanted to physically do something that would help”.

The children collectively agreed that it was fun working in a group and building the homes themselves.

“I liked hammering the nails and learning to measure things,” one said.

“The penguins need places to breed because their numbers are decreasing,” said another.

The kids were very proud of what they had achieved and how they were helping the “cute” birds.

Nga Manu Waiata and Tuahine Point Ecological Trust helped the project by providing funding.

“We really appreciate the support because educating our children and the community is the best way to make a change”, said Mr Shand.

Harley Dibble from Nga Manu Waiata said the penguin boxes are absolutely fantastic.

“What a great project for Nic and his students to take on.

“Nga Manu Waiata is very supportive of all initiatives to keep Korora safe, subject to guidance from DoC.

“To help we will place pest traps close to the penguin boxes”, said Mr Dibble.

DoC’s website says the native bird is the smallest penguin in the world at around 25 centimetres tall and weighing in at around one kilogram.

The birds were once common in New Zealand but are now considered at risk.

Most now live on offshore islands where there are less threats or disturbance.

Adult birds come ashore between May and June to prepare nests.

They also use this time to shed their feathers and grow a new waterproof coat.

This can take around two weeks and happens any time between November and March.

The penguins are very vulnerable at this time as they cannot swim.

But the increase of coastal development has cleared a lot of their traditional nesting sites. Traditional nests are in underground burrows, under vegetation, in crevices, between rocks or in caves.

They prefer nest boxes over natural sites, and breeding success in the boxes has been equal to or higher, than that observed at natural sites the website says.

— Leave penguins and their homes alone

— Set predator traps on your property

— When on beaches, keep your dog under control or on a leash

— Your dog can be trained in avian awareness

— Put a bell on your cat’s collar and feed it well. Tips courtesy of DoC

Tips courtesy of DoC

LITTLE blue penguins now have 11 new homes to choose from on Wainui Beach.

Built by a class of Wainui School children, they will be placed in locations along the beach where the children can monitor them.

Wainui School teacher Nic Shand was inspired after a work colleague found little blue penguins living under their house.

His class of 27 children, aged 8-9 years, built boxes adapted from plans designed by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

“The kids were fascinated by the little birds. They studied and reported on their history, behaviour, food sources, habitat threats and need for protection.

“They loved the hands-on project because they were creating a meaningful product.

“We hope our project will increase the security and survival of the little blue penguins on Wainui Beach and will help to educate the community,” he said.

The whole school’s topic right now is — actions speak louder than words.

“We didn’t want to just talk about our concerns for the penguins, we wanted to physically do something that would help”.

The children collectively agreed that it was fun working in a group and building the homes themselves.

“I liked hammering the nails and learning to measure things,” one said.

“The penguins need places to breed because their numbers are decreasing,” said another.

The kids were very proud of what they had achieved and how they were helping the “cute” birds.

Nga Manu Waiata and Tuahine Point Ecological Trust helped the project by providing funding.

“We really appreciate the support because educating our children and the community is the best way to make a change”, said Mr Shand.

Harley Dibble from Nga Manu Waiata said the penguin boxes are absolutely fantastic.

“What a great project for Nic and his students to take on.

“Nga Manu Waiata is very supportive of all initiatives to keep Korora safe, subject to guidance from DoC.

“To help we will place pest traps close to the penguin boxes”, said Mr Dibble.

DoC’s website says the native bird is the smallest penguin in the world at around 25 centimetres tall and weighing in at around one kilogram.

The birds were once common in New Zealand but are now considered at risk.

Most now live on offshore islands where there are less threats or disturbance.

Adult birds come ashore between May and June to prepare nests.

They also use this time to shed their feathers and grow a new waterproof coat.

This can take around two weeks and happens any time between November and March.

The penguins are very vulnerable at this time as they cannot swim.

But the increase of coastal development has cleared a lot of their traditional nesting sites. Traditional nests are in underground burrows, under vegetation, in crevices, between rocks or in caves.

They prefer nest boxes over natural sites, and breeding success in the boxes has been equal to or higher, than that observed at natural sites the website says.

— Leave penguins and their homes alone

— Set predator traps on your property

— When on beaches, keep your dog under control or on a leash

— Your dog can be trained in avian awareness

— Put a bell on your cat’s collar and feed it well. Tips courtesy of DoC

Tips courtesy of DoC

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