Read about our work so far from our quarterly reports and publications.

Quarter Four (Q4) Report 2019

Phase 2 of the Tawaki Project got underway with GPS dive tracking of breeding birds from two sites in Milford Sound: camera logger deployments had to be postponed to the coming season as research permits were received too late and penguins entered the post-guard stage by the time field work started. Adjustments have been made to the automatic transponder gate in Harrison Cove to improve its functionality. In October, Thomas joined a DOC and NIWA expedition to the Bounty Islands to survey erect-crested penguins. Ground and drone surveys were conducted on Proclamation Island, with additional drone surveys of other Islands. Results indicated that the Bounty Island population has remained stable for at least the last two decades. The expedition also highlighted the efficacy of using drones to survey seabirds in NZ’s sub-Antarctic. In the wake of this expedition, we have submitted a revised proposal for penguin research activities in the sub-Antarctic. A trial kororā GPS tracking programme was initiated with the West Coast Penguin Trust and the national kororā monitoring programme moved forward through time on the ground with community groups.

Full Report

Quarter Three (Q3) Report 2019

The satellite tracking of tawaki over the winter months concluded in August 2019 with recovery of most of the penguins and some of the satellite transmitters. The Tawaki Project received its permits for the next 10 years and has started this year’s field work in Milford Sound. We conducted a recce trip to Doubtful Sound where we plan to expand the Tawaki Project work to in the coming years. An intensive monitoring period at Jackson Head found no evidence for stoats despite the severe mast year. NZPI in collaboration with DOC will conduct the first survey of Erect-crested penguins on the Bounty Islands in nearly two decades and assess working conditions for future research on the Antipodes Islands. Liaison with community groups engaging in Little penguin conservation continued and first field work training will commence in November on the West Coast. The 10th International Penguin Conference helped substantially with the outreach to community groups in NZ and to establish collaborations with international colleagues in the future.

Full Report

Quarter Two (Q2) Report 2019

The satellite tracking of tawaki during their winter dispersal has continued with great success, not only providing new insights into the species’ utilization of the Southern Ocean but also resulting in a new, less-intrusive device attachment. Permit applications for the next phase of the Tawaki Project, to examine the importance of fjords as refugia for tawaki, are being processed. Progress has been made to identify community groups working with Little penguins/kororā across NZ, a list of research projects has been complied and reported human impact incidents recorded.

Full Report

Quarter One (Q1) Report 2019

The first three months of the fledgling project tentatively named “NZ Penguin Conservation & Research” focussed largely on establishing a workplace framework, outreach to various community groups, liaison with DOC and other stakeholders regarding permitting issues, as well as research activities on Fiordland penguins/tawaki. All tasks within the “Establishment Phase” category have been completed

Full Report

New Zealand penguins Current knowledge and research priorities

Thomas Mattern & Kerry-Jayne Wilson, published April 2019

“In this report, we collate the information available on all six New Zealand penguin species. This includes published accounts (scientific papers, reports), grey literature (unpublished reports and data sets), and personal observations made by researchers that have worked with New Zealand penguins.

Based on our findings, we compile a list of research priorities that should aid closing many of the knowledge gaps that prevent effective evidence-based conservation management.”