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Funding Boost Benefits West Coast School Penguin Programme

The West Coast Penguin Trust has expanded its primary school education programme to include more than 1100 children at 16 schools on the South Island’s West Coast, after receiving funding from the ANZ Staff Foundation.


For 14 years the Trust has been working to reduce threats to penguins in the region. Its work included public awareness programmes for dog-owners and building more than 3km of penguin-proof fence along State Highway 6.


Two donations totalling $8,963 (with $5,000 given in 2019) from the ANZ Staff Foundation has helped make this work possible.



The ANZ Staff Foundation - one of New Zealand’s leading payroll giving schemes - is making a further 60 grants in the coming weeks, as it distributes a record $650,000 to charities throughout the country.


“We are thrilled to have received funding from the ANZ Staff Foundation for our education programme,” said Inger Perkins,  manager of the West Coast Penguin Trust.


“Penguins are part of our natural heritage, part of our history and part of who we are, so teaching school children about them is vitally important. We’re confident the children will grow up valuing penguins and nature - they might even become the conservationists of the future.”


The Trust’s education programme - launched in 2014 - has attracted growing interest from schools on the West Coast, with dozens of teachers now using its enquiry and action-based approach and curriculum-linked activities to connect children to nature and their local wildlife.


“It’s great to support a project like this as part of the West Coast Penguin Trust’s wider long-term conservation effort,” said Antonia Watson, CEO of ANZ New Zealand. 


“Making the whole community aware of the threat to these penguins can only help protect them for future generations.”

The West Coast Penguin Trust has expanded its primary school education programme to include more than 1100 children at 16 schools on the South Island’s West Coast.


Taking Action


The West Coast Penguin Trust was set up in 2006 after locals reported declining populations of blue penguins.


As with many other native birds, it was assumed that stoats were killing the penguins and their young.


While trapping stoats in the area the Trust also collected data about dead penguins. 


It discovered over the 8 year period to 2014 more than 150 blue penguins had been killed on the road and over 50 had been killed by dogs.


Only one blue penguin was killed by a stoat in that time and the Trust concluded that vehicles and roaming dogs were the biggest killers.


This prompted the building of a roadside penguin protection fence north of Punakaiki to prevent the birds getting on to the most lethal section of coast road.


The Trust also ran a coast-wide campaign to inform dog-owners about the importance of keeping their animals secure at home and under close control when out for a walk.


“There was an absolute need to get a fence in there to stop penguins from being killed on the road. There is plenty of penguin nesting habitat on the sea side of the road so we knew they’d have alternative places to shelter and breed,” said Inger Perkins.


“The fence has been outstandingly successful and we're absolutely thrilled that no penguins have been killed along that part of the road since it went in.”


“In addition, the number of penguins being killed by dogs is reducing as our community learns about the penguins living on their doorstep and what they can do to keep them safe.”

Conservation dogs like this Vizsla called Mena are trained to find penguin nests and are an essential part of the Trust's on-going monitoring programme.


Young Minds


The West Coast Penguin Trust estimates it is now reaching thousands of Coasters through the school programme, including the children, their families and the wider community. But it says more schools are keen to be involved and it hopes to expand activities as funds and time allows.


Having built a popular programme for teachers, the trust’s part-time Education Ranger, Lucy Waller, is in demand. The trust has made its teaching resources available free online for schools, home school groups, parents and youth leaders.


The funding from the ANZ Staff Foundation - which has given local charities in New Zealand over $6 million in the past 20 years – has helped the trust expand its education programme to include more schools.


“We see penguins as an opportunity to introduce conservation to young minds and encourage the development of conservation values at a crucial age where such values are most likely to be formed,” said Inger Perkins.


“The children are encouraged to find out about the issues, consider what can they do to help, and then to take action,” she said.



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