Little blue penguins get flash new homes at Napier Port

One of New Zealand's native penguins is getting a helping hand through a new development at Napier Port.

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It’s thought to be a world first. Source: 1 NEWS

A sanctuary with special housing has been established for little blue penguins/kororā, believed to be a world-first for a port.

With seaside views, fresh paint and no predators, the new sanctuary at Napier Port is prime real estate for penguins.

"For a start there are no dogs running around and the penguins are safe, and secondly without public access it's also quiet," Massey University's John Cockram told 1 NEWS.

"So ports particularly for penguins can provide excellent breeding sites."

The port is building a new wharf and needed to find a home for its kororā population, which nests inside the erosion walls.

It's estimated there are 91 breeding pairs at the port, but the plan is to move 35 of them to the new sanctuary by the end of the month.

Napier Port environment advisor Paul Rose says initially, they thought they only had around five pairs.

That's where penguin detector dog Rua comes in, sniffing out burrows along the wall ahead of its demolition.

"Some will have to be moved out of the wall as we build the wharf, others will come naturally," Mr Rose says.

Spaces are filling up fast, with a pair of chicks already choosing to make the move.

Modelled on Oamaru's famous penguin colony, the site provides opportunities to research the species whose population is declining and whose behaviour is something of a mystery.

"The site here at Napier Port is one of number we are developing around the country to use to both be able to gather information about the penguins, and use as indicators as health of the local fish stocks," Mr Cockram says.

The boxes have been designed by local school children and it's hoped the creative and cosy homes will prove attractive to the world's smallest penguin.