About 50 children from New Zealand’s Bay of Islands have been busy building ‘houses’ for threatened kiwis and penguins as part of the community’s effort to encourage the return of native wildlife in the area.
The children were part of an enthusiastic group of volunteers who helped build rock and cement shelters for the Kororā (Māori for little blue penguin) along the shoreline at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The houses provide a safe haven for the birds to raise their young.
Organised by local conservation group, Bay Bush Action, volunteers also decorated and installed kiwi houses in the heart of the Opua State Forest to encourage prime nesting conditions for the iconic national bird.
Bay Bush Action trustee Brad Windust said the organisation’s focus was on conservation activities in the Opua forest but had extended its work to the shores of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds through the support of Princess’ guests.
“There are so many birds on the brink of extinction here in New Zealand yet, we are determined to bring back the kiwi and sea birds to the Opua State Forest for future generations,” Brad said.
“The focus of our Princess Cruises partnership is to create a thriving habitat that supports the growth of native bird populations. We started in 2019 by looking to regenerate kiwi numbers in the Forest, and our program has now extended to penguin conservation efforts along the Waitangi Treaty Grounds shoreline.”
Brad said the two-days of activity last month gave young volunteers an opportunity to learn and play a part in preserving the local ecosystem of the region.
“It’s a truly regional project that draws on the participation of a wide range of volunteers and supporters. We have received help from carpentry trainees at the Northland Region Corrections Facility to build the large wooden boxes for the kiwis that our local school children have then decorated and placed in the bush. It is terrific to see the connection with the environment that can be made among different groups across the community.”
“Thanks to the donations from Princess Cruises’ passengers, Bay Bush Action has been able to make a difference. With their support, there has been a doubling in kiwi numbers in the Bay of Islands over the last 18 months.”
Princess Cruises pledged NZ$100,000 to launch the Princess Local Partnerships program in August 2019, which was also funded by adult guests donating $2 via their onboard account during the 2019/20 summer season. The program aims to support conservation and cultural initiatives in New Zealand.
The partnership program came about after research commissioned by Princess Cruises showed guests wanted to connect more deeply with the places they visited and give back to the local communities that welcomed them.
Princess Cruises Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Stuart Allison said, “Our friends at Bay Bush Action have been telling us the extra funding through Princess Cruises and its guests has made a big difference to their conservation efforts in Ōpua State Forest. We’re excited to see that their work extended to building penguin houses on the shores of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds because of our obvious connection with the sea.”
“Princess Cruises brings more guests to New Zealand than any other cruise line and supporting community-based initiatives is an extension of that relationship.”