Shelly Bay development paused after penguins let loose in construction site

Shelly Bay. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The multi-million dollar development in Wellington’s Shelly Bay has paused because penguins are at the site.

A penguin-proof fence at the development was tampered with, allowing kororā (little blue penguins) to enter. The fence was in place to stop the birds returning to their nesting place as dangerous construction takes place.

Several nesting boxes had been placed outside the fence for the penguins, but someone had taken matters into their own hands and removed the mesh.

Worksite kaitiaki Charlie Rudd, of Taranaki Whānui told NZME it was unfortunate people had decided to intervene, as they have put the birds in more danger.

“Unfortunately, they’ve endangered our kororā, they’ve put them at more risk.”

Now, it’s his job to ensure “no stone is left unturned” in relation to the penguins, and work will stop until he can be sure the site is clear.

“If there’s one [penguin] we treat it like there’s a tribe, so we stop we reassess and then we move forward.”

Penguin sniffer dogs are being brought in to make sure the area is clear before work continues.

He said anyone worried about the birds is more than welcome to come to the building site and talk to him about the plans in place to keep them safe.

“It’s about listening to the experts, come down and have a korero – I’ve invited everyone be it one or a thousand come down and have a talk.”

The prime real estate on Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula is earmarked for a $500 million development, featuring 350 new homes, a boutique hotel, and a village green.

It has been mired by controversy and legal battles since it’s inception – including a 16-month occupation by Mau Whenua – who disagreed with the iwi decision to sell the land for development.

Mau Whenua represents iwi members who voted not to sell the land, those who have reconsidered their position on the sale and no longer support it, and those who say they didn’t get a chance to vote.

The occupation ended in May after an agreement of sorts was reached with Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) and Mau Whenua.

It was revealed the trust had committed to the principle of holding onto significant land within its tribal area as a key pillar in its revised strategic plan.

This was seen as a return to the vision and kaupapa of the iwi’s elders, which was getting their land back for generations to come. However Mau Whenua has not yet given up on its fight for the land and will not be withdrawing its claim currently before the Māori Land Court.

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