Penguin breeding season is June - Dec 2018. Dogs are a major threat to nesting little blue penguins in Whitireia Park. Adult birds come ashore at winter to build nest with chicks fledging in Nov or Dec. Nesting boxes are along the coastline and are a safe place for them. Keeping dogs on leads will help the penguin. If you spot any dogs misbehaviouring please call PCC dog control. Stick to paths, follow signs and keep your dogs under control at all times.
Thankfully with that calmer weather, we could complete our planned haymaking in Whitireia Park. The idea behind this was to remove some of the excess dead grass where it was possible, to further reduce the fire risk. Hay making is not usually a spectator sport but that time it drew quite crowd with kids enjoying the chance to play on the hay bales. Our farm licence holder at Battle Hill and Belmont did this work for us, taking payment in hay bales which works very well! He and Principal Ranger Wayne Boness will investigate to check how the hay baling might be extended in the future as once it’s done, the mown areas also improve public access.
Whitireia Park includes some areas with high biodiversity values and these are managed under GWRC’s Key Native Ecosystem programme. This programme recognises the significance of a range of different sites around the region and aims to protect and restore them as functioning ecosystems and important remnants of our natural heritage. A Key Native Ecosystem plan sets out the management activities that will be carried out to address threats to the biodiversity values at a site. It states specific goals to maintain and improve a site’s ecological condition where possible.
The Key Native Ecosystem site at Whitireia Park is called Whitireia Coast and includes the western cliffs and coastal platform, the eastern and southern coastal escarpments, the dune lands, wetlands and estuary, the forest remnant, and Te Onepoto Stream riparian strip. The rarity and threatened nature of the many ecosystem types present are what make this site so special. With ecological weeds, pest animals and the adverse effects of human activities posing a significant and ongoing threat to the area, GWRC and its management partners are undertaking a long-term commitment to ensure that the Key Native Ecosystem site’s values are protected and restored.
The Key Native Ecosystem plan for Whitireia Coast is now available on our website. You can download it here. You can read more here to find out about the Key Native Ecosystem programme. Other biodiversity management activities happening in the Wellington region are described here.
Little Blue Penguins may soon begin breeding in Whitireia Park thanks to the ace carpentry skills of Aotea College students that have created safe havens for the world’s smallest penguin. Which may mean that in the future we’ll see more of them splashing around in the harbour – the penguins, that is!
Wellington Regional Council biodiversity adviser Janey Hilford says the Whiteria Park Restoration Group, with Wellington Regional Council support, has been working with the community for a decade to restore the park's native flora and fauna.
It’s a two-pronged approach. Part of the group's plan is to create safe nesting areas for the little blue penguins, and “the carpentry group of students from Aotea College has been improving the potential nesting habitat by building nesting boxes, while a dedicated bunch of locals has been trapping stoats that can kill penguins and eat their eggs and chicks.”
The boxes were placed in the scrub behind the beach, where the penguins are likely to nest. They provide them with shelter and open at the bottom to allow the penguins to burrow into the ground.
Janey says “the penguins are sometimes seen in the water around Porirua Harbour and Whitireia Park, which are right on the edge of the city and important areas for native biodiversity. They come ashore to breed, where they have no trouble finding the nesting boxes. It’s not clear how they find them, but our experience from a similar approach on the south Wellington coast shows they don’t have any trouble doing so."