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Cheese lovers give their all to threatened penguin

Cheese lovers give their all to threatened penguin

Thousands of New Zealand cheese lovers are taking the time to help the threatened Hoiho - or yellow-eyed penguin.

Since May, Mainland Products has boosted its sponsorship of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, with an extra $1 donation for each entry returned as part of its "Help our Hoiho" promotion. Mainland has sponsored the Trust for 15 years and this latest campaign will bring that sponsorship closer to the magic $1 million mark.

As well as financial sponsorship of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, Mainland has also provided indirect support by raising awareness of the penguins' plight and sponsoring school teaching kits on the threatened species.
As part of this "Help our Hoiho" promotion, close to 500 schools - involving more than 1,500 classes and close to 40,000 children - are studying the Hoiho in year two to nine classes with a resource book created with assistance from Mainland and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.
The competition running for schools carries a prize of a class field-trip to see the penguins on the Otago Peninsula and the opportunity to work with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust for the day. For the family competition, there are five trips to see the penguins at stake.

Each week of the competition more and more entries have been flooding Mainland's mailbag.

"We've had a wonderful response and entries are still flooding in. This special promotion has helped highlight the relationship with the Trust and has had a positive impact on our ongoing sponsorship scheme. With the competition being drawn in just a week , we know that children and families around the country are crossing their fingers to win," Mainland's Marketing Manager Sharon Angus says.

New Zealanders' support of the campaign has assisted the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust in bringing the Hoiho back from the brink of extinction. But the job is not over.

Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust Executive Officer Sue Murray says the penguins are not out of trouble yet. A set back last year was a distressingly high chick loss at Stewart Island. The cause needs to be investigated further by the Trust.

"New Zealanders have taken the penguins to their hearts, and the support of Mainland's campaign has undoubtedly helped us in our work. We have to keep on working to protect the penguins and make sure they are able to become a sustainable population with minimal threat of predators.

"A lot of our work has been to protect the penguins' habitat, giving them a better chance of survival.

"Without Mainland's help the Trust wouldn't have been able to achieve what it has," Sue Murray says.
Over the years cheese lovers have been involved, the numbers of penguins have recovered from a low on the mainland of 150 in 1990 to last season's estimated 470 breeding pairs. But the penguins are still on the threatened species list.

Sharon Angus says Mainland's sponsorship was born out of the company's "good things take time" philosophy for its cheese.

"Legend has it that John Darby, a renowned Hoiho researcher, made an off-hand comment that Roy Wesney, the 1990s star of the Mainland cheese advertisements, walked like a yellow-eyed penguin.

"Soon the two iconic Mainlanders - Wesney and the Hoiho - were Chaplin-walking side by side, with Wesney saying, "Stick with me mate - I'll see you get home in one piece".

"That heart-warming association formed the basis of what has become one of New Zealand's longest running sponsorships, certainly in the conservation arena. And it has meant that a New Zealand treasure is hopefully on the way off the threatened species list," Ms Angus says.

The promotion runs until 6 August.
Contact details:

Sharon Angus
Marketing Manager
Mainland Products Ltd
Ph 03 455 5105 (work)
021 570 842

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