About the 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 and bringing her creative and artistic talents to the Trust and the community.
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.
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.
Dr Scott Freeman
Scott grew up in the North Island but has lived south of Cook Strait for about 25 years. In the 1980’s and 90’s he lived and worked on sub-Antarctic Campbell Island for several years where he developed a weakness for seabirds. Scott has worked for DOC in Westport for over ten years and is presently the Senior Ranger overseeing biodiversity projects in the Buller area. He has a PhD in environmental management. Scott was a key member of the Trust in its early years and returned as a Trustee in 2015. Scott has two young daughters and enjoys tramping, sailing, swimming and landscape photography.
Robin Long – Trustee
Robin Long grew up at Gorge River in remote South Westland where she developed a fascination for birds and plants from a very young age. She first became involved with the Trust in 2009 when at age 14 she surveyed the Fiordland Crested Penguins breeding near her home and has recently carried out more extensive surveys in the area to attempt to establish a better estimate of the overall population. Although she currently works for DOC in Hokitika doing bird, pest and vegetation monitoring, Robin still spends time at Gorge River surveying breeding areas and using motion sensing cameras to assess nest predation for the Trust. In her spare time she enjoys tramping, birdwatching, botany, drawing, crafts and is currently building herself a small house in Hokitika.
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 – Manager
Inger grew up in Kent, the garden of England, and says she became interested in conservation when proposals 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 subsequently worked as a Community Relations Ranger in Hokitika between 2008 and 2016. She lives close to Hokitika beach with penguins living just a few hundred yards away.
Zoe Watson – Education
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.