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Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust wins International Award

Sunday 28 September

Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust wins prestigious BirdLife International Award

The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust has been awarded a prestigious BirdLife International Conservation Achievement Award for their innovative conservation work. The Trust is the first New Zealand conservation organisation to receive this award.

Her Imperial Highness, Princess Takamado of Japan, Honorary President to BirdLife International, presented the award to the Trust on September 27 during BirdLife International’s World Conference in Buenos Aires.

Mike Britton, General Manager of the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand accepted the award on behalf of the Trust.

Awards are presented in recognition of outstanding international achievements in bird conservation. Previous awards were given in 2004. Ten awards were made in total, five to BirdLife International partners and five to individuals or organisations world-wide who are making a significant difference for bird conservation in the wild.

The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust is a charitable conservation Trust based in Dunedin dedicated to preserving the yellow-eyed penguin – an endangered bird that lives around the South Island’s Eastern coastline (Banks Peninsula to Southland) and on some of the sub-Antarctic islands. The Trust carries out a range of activities including land purchasing for natural habitats, fencing and planting, predator control, research funding, advocacy, education and awareness campaigns. In November 2007, the Trust celebrated 20 years of achievements in penguin awareness and conservation on-the-ground.

Euan Kennedy, Founding Trustee of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust says, "This award confirms New Zealand’s place as a world leader in bird conservation. It’s international recognition for our vision and hard work. We could not have done this without the thousands of Kiwis—Trust members, volunteers, schools, community organisations, businesses, local and central government—who have helped us along the way. Special thanks also to the Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand who nominated the Trust for the award."

"Without question, this award also celebrates the invaluable support of Mainland Cheese who have been our principal sponsor for 19 years. Through the Mainland bar-code redemption scheme, thousands of New Zealanders have contributed to saving yellow-eyed penguins and their coastal habitats ".

David McFarlane, Field Officer for the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, says, "The yellow-eyed penguin is an endangered species and needs on-going help to restore their populations to sustainable levels. For the foreseeable future, we will need to continue our conservation activity so that these iconic penguins have safe, high quality habitats in which to breed and prosper again."

Chris Earl, Brand Manager for Mainland, says "We are thrilled the Trust’s great work has been recognised internationally. We also wish to thank the thousands of New Zealanders who have sent in their Mainland barcodes, which has allowed us to donate over $1 million to the Trust. However, the Trust still needs ongoing support so we urge New Zealanders to continue to send in their barcodes found on the back of Mainland cheese and butter products."

For more information on how to support the Trust and help save yellow-eyed penguins please visit


For Media Enquiries contact: Merrin Bath, Ph 027 2020903

Photo opportunities/images and interviews with Euan Kennedy and David McFarlane available


Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust: New Zealand’s first charitable trust dedicated to the conservation of a specific species throughout its natural range. Based in Dunedin, the Trust was formed in 1987 by residents of Otago Peninsula who recognised that yellow-eyed penguins were in danger of disappearing from South Island coastlines.

The yellow-eyed penguin is unique to New Zealand. It is classed as an endangered species in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The penguins are limited in their distribution to the South Island’s eastern coastline (Banks Peninsula to Southland), Stewart Island, and Auckland and Campbell Islands in the sub-antarctic. Approximately 496 pairs breed on South Island coasts, a figure regarded as well below natural or sustainable levels.

Today, the Trust has interests wherever yellow-eyed penguins are found. Its ambitious efforts to restore the penguins to their traditional habitats, along with all the rich biological inventory of southern coastlines, are recognised nationally and internationally

The Trust’s activities are diverse and depend on mobilising community support for:

• Purchasing land or negotiating protective status for breeding habitats • Fencing and replanting • Control of predators such as stoats and ferrets • Annual production up to 10,000 native trees and shrubs in a purpose-built nursery

• Funding of research Advocacy and publicity • Education and awareness in schools and communities

The Trust is administered by a Trust Board of 10 trustees and employs 7 staff (5.5 full-time equivalents). Members are drawn from New Zealand, USA, Australia, Europe, Asia and UK. The Trust’s patron is ex-All Black Anton Oliver. Anton has recently worked with BirdLife International in Fiji's outlying Ringgold Islands where he has been studying the link between biodiversity and economic security as part of his dissertation.

Mainland Cheese has been the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust’s principal sponsor since 1989. In addition to its memorable advertising campaigns and initiatives, Mainland has donated more than $1 million to the Trust. They donate $1 for every barcode returned from the purchase of Mainland butter or cheese products. The relationship has set a precedent for corporate sector support of conservation in New Zealand.

BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. BirdLife Partners operate in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide. BirdLife Partners collaborate on regional work programmes in every continent.

The BirdLife International conference is the largest ever gathering of the BirdLife family and friends including 108 national conservation organisations that make up the BirdLife International Network, plus their existing and potential collaborators and supporters. Over 400 delegates from all over the world attended the conference from 22 – 27 September 2008.


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