Muriwai Penguin Project rebuilds after Cyclone Gabrielle

Two little blue penguins chicks in nesting box
© Murawai Penguin Project
Success Story

The Muriwai Penguin Project is working to boost numbers of threatened kororā in the remote bays of Muriwai through building and deploying nest boxes, predator-trapping, monitoring, and community education.

But the devastating Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023 set the programme back, with approximately 50 percent of the coastal forest around the southern bays of Muriwai suffering damage, and around 60 per cent of the organisation’s traps and nesting boxes lost.

Through the Community Conservation Fund, WWF-New Zealand is supporting the project to rebuild.

The Muriwai Environmental Action Community Trust have now repaired the damaged boxes and traps in the southern bays and reinstalled them, and kororā have returned this breeding season.

The project has also developed a nest box monitoring system to assist with remote monitoring of little blue penguins. Battery powered devices monitor temperature, movement and light in the nest boxes, and send radio signals back to base stations using long range radio technology.  

The Trust is now working to build more nest boxes to provide safe havens for penguins, and extend their predator trapping - with the ambitious goal of almost 50 fledged chicks by 2025.

They also plan to run education sessions on the plight of the kororā in the community and local schools. School children have already been helping to build and paint nest boxes.

Kororā are some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most-loved native birds, but they face an uncertain future, with the warmer waters caused by climate change pushing their food out of reach into deeper waters and impacting their ability to feed their chicks.

Little blue penguins also face many other human-induced threats, including habitat loss; predation by feral cats and dogs; overfishing by commercial and recreational fishers; and marine plastic pollution.

WWF-New Zealand’s Community Conservation Fund is supporting several projects to help protect and rehabilitate threatened little blue penguins/kororā.

The Fund, run by WWF in partnership with the Tindall Foundation, supports community-led projects that conserve and restore Aotearoa’s natural environment or educate New Zealanders on its importance.