Waiheke Kennedy Point marina development
IntroductionDOC's response to concerns about the welfare of kororā/little blue penguin during the Kennedy Point marina development.
We have received enquiries from concerned members of the public and protesters regarding the welfare of kororā during the Auckland Council consented marina development at Kennedy Point on Waiheke Island.
We visited the site regularly to ensure the safety of the kororā during the main construction works and have maintained regular contact with tangata whenua – iwi, hapū, whānau and the community.
Date: 17 August 2023
In May 2017, Auckland Council gave resource consent to Kennedy Point Boatharbour Ltd to build a floating marina at Kennedy Point, Waiheke Island. Subsequent public protests arose, and local community groups and Ngāti Paoa Trust Board took the case to the Environment Court.
In 2018 the Environment Court upheld the decision to grant the consent.
Construction began in March 2021 and reignited significant opposition.
Concerns have been raised about the perceived danger the development could have for kororā who have burrows in the existing breakwater.
The Kennedy Point Marina Development Ltd (a subsidiary of Kennedy Point Boatharbour Ltd), under Auckland Council consent conditions, has engaged a wildlife consultant. They have planned and undertaken penguin monitoring, and prepared a penguin management plan for any kororā found during breakwater disturbance. This plan has been prepared and updated by an ecologist from Boffa Miskell.
In March 2022, DOC granted Kennedy Point Marina Development Ltd with a Wildlife Act Authority which allowed for two approved handlers to catch, handle and release kororā during construction activities on the breakwater.
This work was completed in May 2022, therefore the conditions of the authority are no longer relevant. Any further construction activity falls under the conditions of the resource consent granted by Auckland Council.
Kororā/Little Blue Penguin
Kororā often breed in man-made structures and around ports. At Kennedy Point they are breeding in a breakwater built in the 1990s.
Kororā observed at the site appear to be in good health, behaving naturally, and are successfully transiting the construction zone.
Kennedy Point is not the only place kororā breed on Waiheke. Numerous other colonies are known on Waiheke and on other Hauraki Gulf islands.
Dogs and vehicles are a significant threat to the kororā population.
DOC received a report of a dead kororā at Kennedy Point on 11 November 2021. Necropsy results show the kororā had died from a dog bite.
DOC sought another necropsy on a kororā found at the public boat ramp at the Kennedy Point area in July 2023. The results from the necropsy found the bird died from a blunt force compressive chest trauma – a crush type injury. With no evidence available to understand what caused the injury, we will not be taking further action.
The resource consent to build the marina was approved by Auckland Council and does not involve DOC. Construction activity falls under the conditions of the resource consent.
We do not have a legal role in the consent process. However, we are committed to ensuring the kororā are safe.
We acknowledged the concerns that kororā will be disturbed by the construction.
DOC science and technical advice was that kororā are resilient birds and tolerant of disturbance, as evidenced by them being present in highly modified areas with significant human activity, and that the risk posed by the development was low.
Our staff visited the site regularly during construction and observed no direct impact on kororā. Kororā continue to live and successfully breed on the breakwater.
Wildlife Act Authority
Kennedy Point Marina Development Ltd was granted a Wildlife Act Authority by DOC for two approved handlers to catch, handle and release kororā during construction activities on the breakwater.
Given the relevant resource consents had been granted for the marina development to proceed, DOC granted a Wildlife Act Authority with special conditions, to ensure the penguins’ welfare during rock and piling works on the breakwater wall where the kororā nest.
This wildlife authority was only for the construction phase where it was necessary to lift and remove rocks from the breakwater to place the piles.
We analysed the risks this activity would have on the kororā in the area. We concluded that the Wildlife Act Authority would be the best course of action to ensure the physical safety of the penguins, support the population with the addition of new nesting boxings and would be in the best interests of their welfare.
We considered that without the Wildlife Act Authority, the works could proceed and would have required the use of ‘passive eviction’ where the developer would need to wait for the kororā to move out of the way as rocks were removed. This method is considered a higher risk to the kororā and we have an obligation to require the safest method to protect them.
Permit conditions included construction activity only occurring when the kororā are not nesting or moulting, the developer informing DOC staff so they can advise during any handling of kororā and only two approved handlers working with the kororā.
We monitored the work related to the wildlife authority via live video stream as it gave us good visibility of the ecologists supervising the works.
No birds needed to be caught or handled during the rock moving works.
The conditions of the authority are no longer relevant because this work on the breakwater is complete. Any further construction activity falls under the conditions of the resource consent granted by Auckland Council.
We will continue to work closely with tangata whenua – iwi, hapū and whānau – as well as the local community to continually address evolving issues that relate to our role.
We will continue to engage with the developers, their contracted ecologists, and Auckland Conucil to understand the construction work taking place and its potential impact on kororā.
We attended monthly monitoring of the kororā during the main construction phase and continue to review the monitoring reports provided by the developer's ecologists.
The consent for the development has been granted by Auckland Council. For more information see Explainer: Kennedy Point marina consent on the Auckland Council website.
Email Auckland Council to give feedback and/or express any concerns you may have regarding the marina construction.
If you would like to get in touch with DOC email firstname.lastname@example.org.