About the Blue Penguin Trust
The West Coast Penguin Trust is a charitable trust formed in 2006 by local residents concerned at the decline in blue penguin populations.
The Trust promotes the awareness and enjoyment of blue penguins and other coastal birds through participation in community events, media liaison and school education programmes from Karamea to Haast.
The Trust conducts research into the ecology of blue penguins in order to better understand their needs and threats to them. On the basis of its research, the Trust instigates practical conservation projects that benefit both coastal wildlife and the community. It also advises all four Councils and DOC on blue penguin management and is extending its work to Fiordland crested penguins.
It has a wealth of experience behind it. It is run by volunteer trustees with differing backgrounds and headed by eminent seabird ecologist and natural history writer Kerry-Jayne Wilson.
Patron – Craig Potton
Craig Potton is New Zealand’s pre-eminent landscape photographer, a passionate conservationist and presenter of television series Wild Coasts and Rivers. He became the patron of the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust in 2012.
The photographer says he loves the West Coast more than anywhere in New Zealand and defies anyone not to love penguins. As a young boy he remembers hearing blue penguins under the bach at Golden Bay, the sad thing is he says he doesn’t hear them any more.
The Trust believes Craig’s high profile and conservation values are a perfect fit with its work. Through his publishing company he produces books that are scientifically robust yet accessible to the layperson, through his photography and television work he helps the wider public to appreciate and enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of New Zealand’s landscapes, flora and fauna.
Kerry-Jayne Wilson – Trust Chairperson
Kerry-Jayne Wilson has devoted the last 40 years to researching penguins and other seabirds.
She has travelled the globe studying birdlife in places as diverse as New Zealand, Antarctica, Mongolia, Malaysia, Newfoundland, Indonesia and the Cook Islands. She has written two books, about 60 scientific papers, plus numerous reports and other articles.
In 2009 she retired after 23 years as a lecturer in ecology at Lincoln University. She now lives near Charleston on the West Coast where she works as a natural history writer and seabird ecologist.
Kerry-Jayne is the New Zealand representative for the Australasian Seabird Group, a past vice-president and council member of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand and compiles and edits the biennial State of New Zealand Birds Report.
Jill Cotton – Trustee
Jill Cotton was one of the founding trustees of the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust. She has loved nature since she was a school girl, bird-watching in the UK.
Jill came to New Zealand as a teenager, initially living in Christchurch. As part of her work with the QE2 Arts Council, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, she came to the West Coast in the early 80’s, working on venture capital programmes assisting crafts people to set up co-operatives.
In the late 80’s, Jill opened one of the first B & B’s on the Coast Road, back then there was no accommodation available between Greymouth and Westport. Jill continues to live on the Coast Road and enjoys sharing the beach and dunes with blue penguins.
Paul Elwell-Sutton – Trustee
Paul Elwell-Sutton was born in London, raised in Tanzania and Switzerland and educated mainly at the International School of Geneva. He has a BSc (hons) in Animal Physiology from Aberdeen University.
In the early 70s he hitch-hiked across Asia to Australia, and found himself in Coromandel in 1973. He has been a beekeeper, an organic baker, and currently works on a casual basis for DOC in Haast, mainly as a trapper, but also with the kiwi team.
Paul became involved with the Trust in 2006, surveying the Coast between Charleston and Big Bay for blue penguins. He became a trustee in 2008.
His interests include conservation, tramping in remote places, botanising, political activism, organic gardening, music and reading.
Kim McPherson – Trustee
Kim McPherson comes to the Trust with a background in running an ecotourism business and community work through her involvement in the Scouting movement.
When she heard the Trust needed help with its annual census in 2010 she got the Scouts involved and they were able to identify a previously unknown area of Hokitika Beach where penguins were nesting. Her enthusiasm helped the Trust gain support and funding for a habitat restoration project in the area.
Kim has gone on to establish a native bird recovery care facility to help sick or injured birds recover before being returned to the wild.
She is passionate about penguins and believes as New Zealander’s we have a responsibility to take care of the beautiful land in which we live.
Leon Dalziel – Trustee
Leon is a native West Coaster, growing up at Motukiekie on the Coast Road.
He has worked in advertising agencies in Sydney and New Zealand in various design, management, and information technology roles, and after returning home now runs his web design firm from the isolated family property at Motukiekie.
Leon grew up with an interest in the environment, and is now able to indulge in his interests locally – nurturing a blue penguin colony close by, participating in the annual Blue Penguin Census, running a predator control program, and assuming some guardianship over his immediate surroundings; all the while enjoying the fantastic outdoor lifestyle the West Coast has to offer.
Reuben Lane – Ranger
Reuben grew up on the Kapiti Coast but escaped to the South Island when he was 18. He has a BSc majoring in ecology from Otago University.
Since 1982 he has done volunteer work for DOC in areas like the Eglington Valley and the Waitutu Forest. He also spent three years in the Bolivian Amazon helping set up a medical project for the indigenous people of the Rio Beni.
He moved to Charleston on the West Coast in 2000 and has worked for DOC on its Blue Duck recovery programme, stoat and possum control and Westland petrel monitoring.
He began working for the Blue Penguin Trust in 2008, running its predator trapping and penguin monitoring. He also moonlights as a winemaker in California.
Inger Perkins – Co-ordinator
Inger grew up in Kent, the garden of England, and says she became interested in conservation when attempts were made to dig up the fields that surrounded her town for gravel extraction.
After completing a joint honours degree in Geography and Geology at Bristol University then a Leisure Management Diploma, via various sports management roles, she managed a 220 acre estate and golf club, where she re-discovered a love for nature and sustainability, introducing and implementing an ecology policy. But she wanted to travel and lost her heart to New Zealand when she visited in 2003.
DOC offered her a job in 2005 based in Fox Glacier and she has worked as a Community Relations Ranger in Hokitika since 2008. Until she moved to New Zealand, Inger always thought penguins only lived in Antarctica. Now she lives close to Hokitika beach and it still amazes her that penguins live just a few hundred yards away.
Clare Cosson – Administrator
Clare lives in Hokitika and has been passionate about our amazing natural resources since taking up whitewater kayaking when she was 19 at Canterbury University. Clare was there studying for a Bachelor in Fine Arts, but detoured into Whitewater slalom racing for a few years – racing in the States and Europe as part of the NZ whitewater team. After designing outdoor clothing for New Zealand’s keen outdoor community for Macpac for the next 13 years, Clare then moved to Murchison to teach kayaking at the New Zealand Kayaking School and started a business, with her husband Dave Ritchie, designing and manufacturing gear for Kayakers called Hydraulics. Clare has spent the last few years starting a family and getting involved in some of the many volunteer groups that make up the backbone of small towns like Hokitika. With her youngest daughter off to school she now joins us a part time administrator.
Zoe Watson grew up in Hokitika and as her mother put it, “she was dynamite, as soon as she saw water I couldn’t keep her out of it”. One of her favourite spots for water mayhem was South Side beach, where she now lives. Over 10 years away from the Coast studying and travelling she returned to her hometown. Her dad is training her up to set and clear the stoat traps on the family farm where Korora have been known to reside. She developed a relationship in 2011 with the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust while teaching new entrants at Kaniere School about how special Korora are and ways they can take action to protect them. Amazed at how few tamariki knew that Korora resided on their beaches, she is now writing an Education Resource for the Trust. Zoe hasn’t grown up much and can still be found playing in the South Side waters with her pooch Ellie.
The Trust’s quarterly newsletter is available to anyone with an interest in little blue penguins. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter.
We would prefer to send you the newsletter electronically, as it is more economical for the Trust, but if you do not have access to email, we can post a copy to you. Please drop a line to the Trust, PO Box 63, Hokitika 7842.