News | 8 July 2024
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Little blue penguins live – and die – on our coastline

Kororā live all around the coastline of Te Whanganui a Tara, from the rocky beaches and coastal scrub to the waterfront – unfortunately they are dying in there too.

Little blue penguin nesting in a box and looking at the camera.

Te Whanganui a Tara is proudly the only capital city in the world to be home to kororā. The smallest of penguins, these feisty birds navigate the busy harbour and changing terrain to return to their ancestral home.

Unfortunately, dog attacks on nesting kororā are on the increase. In this year alone there have been eight kororā fatalities from confirmed dog attacks, and seven unconfirmed causes of death, but with injuries consistent with dog attacks – so it’s time to remind the community how to care for these special taonga.

Wellington City Council’s Urban Ecology Manager Daniela Biaggio says there have been too many avoidable kororā deaths over the last few years, and we need to reinvigorate our collective effort to protect them.

“We know no dog owners or other members of the public want to be responsible for the death of kororā, and just small actions can help avoid this.

“We share the urban coastline with kororā, and there’s plenty of room for all to enjoy, but to do so we all need to do our part. Keep dogs on a lead everywhere unless it’s a designated off-leash area in which case they still need to be under control and supervised by the owner, be careful with discarded fishing gear, take care when driving around our coastlines at night and look out for our little blue pedestrians, and together we can help them thrive.

“And don’t hesitate to contact our Dog Control team on 04 499 4444 if you see any roaming dogs where they’re not supposed to be,” adds Daniela.

We know to care for these incredible creatures it takes a city. We are working closely with mana whenua, Places for Penguins, the Department of Conservation and penguin ecologists to minimise risks to penguins. 

Taranaki Whānui Kaiwhakaako Taiao Charlie Rudd says mana whenua’s stance is that all methods should be used to protect our taonga.

“I am part of a region wide kaupapa for all persons and entities to follow tikanga. Mana whenua - Taranaki Whānui have eyes and boots on the ground in regard to the mahi going on around this takiwā. 

“Our kaupapa is clear – protect, eliminate and or mitigate risk. Ensure the hauora of the harbour is kept in balance. Work with like-minded entities who have the best interests of the kororā and all living things in mind.”

Signs to help protect little blue penguins in areas that they are known to nest.

Places for Penguins (PfP), a Forest and Bird Wellington Branch project, has been trapping, planting, and monitoring penguin breeding around the Pōneke coast for a long time, says PfP’s Shannon Ritter.

“The kororā around our coast are more than just taonga – they are the original citizens of Pōneke, and we as a city have a responsibility to not just co-exist alongside them, but to also allow them to thrive in their natural environment.”

If you spot a sick or injured kororā call the Department of Conservation (DOC) on 0800 362 468.

If DOC suggests the animal requires treatment, please take it to The Nest Te Kōhanga at Wellington Zoo where it will receive expert vet care. Learn more about this process on the Forest and Bird website.

If you find a dead kororā, call DOC at 0800 362 468. Take pictures of the bird and the surrounding space to help DOC understand what happened.

You can also send photos to the Places for Penguins project by Forest and Bird via their Facebook page, or email

Visit for more information.