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Marina Team Welcomes Penguin Expert’s Recommendations

The developer of Waiheke’s Kennedy Point Marina has welcomed recommendations from an independent review of its approved plans completed by one of New Zealand’s penguin experts.

Dr Leigh Bull found that whilst Kennedy Point Marina’s approved plans relating to the monitoring and management of kororā / little blue penguins during construction addressed its consent conditions, her review has highlighted ways in which the plans could be improved.

The current penguin monitoring and construction management plans were approved by Council, however following concerns from several local interest groups for the welfare of kororā / little blue penguins using the rock wall at Kennedy Point, Boffa Miskell was engaged by the developer to review the plans and identify if they could be strengthened.

Dr Bull who undertook the review is a seabird ecologist, Partner at Boffa Miskell and a New Zealand authority on kororā / little blue penguin. She said of her review;

“As with such documents and their practical application, the devil is in the detail and that’s where I am contributing my knowledge and significant experience in managing construction activities near kororā / little blue penguin burrows. Some of my recommendations, such as the installation of surveillance cameras to provide real time video monitoring, have already been implemented which is great and gives me confidence in the developer’s intentions going forward.

“My review found that there are some additional monitoring and management approaches, and construction methodologies that can be used during construction works. One of my key recommendations involves achieving better integration of kororā / little blue penguin monitoring and management during construction by preparing a single Little Blue Penguin Monitoring & Construction Management Plan to sit alongside the broader Construction Management Plan. This will create valuable benchmarks to measure the health of this colony as well as provide meaningful data around penguin behaviour that will likely benefit other penguin sites around New Zealand.

“My team has already started working on this plan, which I am hoping to have completed in draft by the end of May.

“The marina developer has accepted all of the recommendations of my review which again demonstrates to me their commitment to protecting the existing penguins at Kennedy Point, both during construction and beyond.

“In the interim, prior to the revised plan being completed and consultation being undertaken with Council, DOC and mana whenua, I am comfortable with general construction work taking place at the site. This includes the planned works involving the temporary removal of rocks below the tide line at the foot of the seawall. I will be on-site and will carry out a detailed inspection prior to any work taking place on the breakwater wall.

“If kororā return after nightfall during the period when rocks have been temporarily removed, based on my experience, I am confident that they will go to neighbouring rocks within the remaining 95% of the artificial breakwater wall.”

Kennedy Point Marina, Project Director, Tony Mair says of Dr Bull’s review findings;

“The Marina project team welcomes Dr Bull’s review and input. This is about more than simply meeting our consent conditions. Our team care about the penguins too and we are committed to ensuring that they are not only protected during construction but are looked after long-term. We will be guided by Dr Bull and her team as to how best to do this.”

Dr Bull’s recommendations include;

· Tightening up of specific evaluation, metrics, and timelines with respect to monitoring of kororā / little blue penguins during construction so that monitoring goals are more transparent and measurable.

· Prepare a focussed monitoring and construction management plan to better integrate both management and monitoring of kororā / little blue penguins during construction with a view to going beyond the existing consent requirements. This will include specific management and monitoring for each stage of the penguin annual cycle.

· Expand on the existing Construction Management Plan’s strategy for managing kororā / little blue penguins immediately prior to and during the construction works on the breakwater involving temporary removal of rocks above the mid-tide line (additional measures to detect penguins via a burrow scope and penguin detection dog inspections with Dr Bull or her proxy present).

· While it is not anticipated that birds will require handling, a wildlife permit should be applied for under s.53 of the Wildlife Act on a precautionary basis to enable the handling of kororā / little blue penguin during the non-breeding season if that proves necessary.

· Tighten the timeframe required for reporting any kororā / little blue penguin that are discovered on-site to the project ecologist.

· Dr Leigh Bull has also been engaged to develop the post-construction Predator Control & Penguin Monitoring Plan which was due to be submitted prior to the completion of construction, but now has been fast tracked due to the heightened community interest in the welfare of the kororā / little blue penguins at Kennedy Point.

·

· “One of the main threats facing the kororā / little blue penguins at Waiheke and elsewhere are rodents, mustelids and dogs and I look forward to working with the Kennedy Point Marina team to put together a plan that aims to reduce this threat at Kennedy Point, as well as create opportunities to educate the wider New Zealand public.” says Dr Bull.

 

About Dr Bull, Reviewer Qualifications & Experience

· Bachelor of Science (Zoology), MSc with Honours (Ecology) and PhD (Ecology).

· Master’s[1] and PhD research on kororā / little blue penguin and shearwaters respectively.

· She has continued to work with kororā / little blue penguin throughout her career as a consultant, undertaking numerous surveys and advising on management strategies (e.g. Lyttelton Port development and CentrePort). At the time of the Rena oil spill, she was engaged by DOC and Maritime New Zealand to prepare a long-term monitoring plan for kororā / little blue penguin in the Tauranga area following the release of birds that were oiled in the spill.

· Most recently, she was the avifauna expert for the Te Ara Tupua shared path in Wellington. She identified kororā / little blue penguin nests under the project footprint and worked with DOC, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Forest & Bird to identify measures to manage and address the effects of the project on those birds. Te Ara Tupua was granted consents under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 in February 2021.

· She currently holds two DOC wildlife permits which allow her to catch, handle and release penguins; one relates to white-flippered penguins (Authorisation No. 56585-FAU) for the Lyttleton Port development, and the other for kororā / little blue penguin (Authorisation No. 91847-FAU) for Te Ara Tupua coastal shared pathway.

· She has appeared as an expert coastal avifauna witness in Council hearings, the Environment Court and before Boards of Inquiry, including resource consent applications for national roading projects and port developments. She has also appeared as an expert seabird witness for the Environmental Protection Agency in relation to the Chatham Rock Phosphate marine consent application under the Exclusive Economic Zone legislation.

 

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