Passengers help the penguins

Mauao Area Wildlife Trust’s Julia Graham looking through a penguin burrow at Mauao base track. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

If penguins could talk, the estimated 800 Little Blue penguins living on Mauao must shriek with excitement every time a cruise ship glides past their home into Tauranga Harbour.

“Yippee, here comes another few thousand dollars to keep our homes safe lads,” they'd say.

And the cruise ship passengers are happy to help.

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Rhys Arrowsmith says the Cruise iPort has this year received donations from cruise ship passengers wanting a stamp memento of their visit.

Through this, passengers and Tourism BOP have been able to support Mauao Area Wildlife Trust in caring for the penguins and grey-faced petrel colonies.

“It's great to be able to help give back and fund this, as so many cruise passengers enjoy walking up and around Mauao each season,” says Rhys.

Mauao Area Wildlife Trust's pest control funding expires in April, so Rhys says the funding is perfect timing to help the trust continue to maintain and bait the current lines and add new ones.

The $2,400 donation will specifically go towards the sponsoring of eight penguins and two grey faced petrels, the purchase of two gas-powered resettable rodent/mustelid trap and lures and one gas-powered resettable possum trap and lure.

Funds will also go towards purchasing plants and equipment for revegetation of native bird nesting areas to provide cover and extra nesting places and prevent erosion.

Mauao Area Wildlife Trust's Julia Graham says donations are important in helping care for the penguins and petrels.

“There's not a lot of places for them to go. It's important that we look after them.”

Julia says pest control is an ongoing expense, and a big one.

“It takes a lot of money, time and equipment. It's great to be able to continue caring for our penguins and petrels for another year.

“It's very timely. We would have found a way, but it means we can concentrate on other things.” The ‘other things' including planting on Moturiki island, known as Leisure Island.

Julia is pleased cruise ship passengers want to learn about Mauao's wildlife and help care for them.

“Many of them spend a lot of time on Mauao and Moturiki Island. They think it's amazing and they're so happy to be able to put something back into this area.”

It means passengers will spread the word about how wonderful Mauao is. “We should be really proud.”

All birds on Mauao are micro-chipped or wear identification bands, but not all are named.

The Weekend Sun and Mauao Area Wildlife Trust are running a competition for the best female and male penguin name. Send your suggestions to Penguinsplus@gmail.com The winner will be announced at the end of March.

To donate to Mauao Area Wildlife Trust, visit Mauao Area Wildlife Trust on Facebook, or www.mauaowildlife.org

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