About the Blue Penguin Trust
The West Coast Blue Penguin Trust is a charitable trust formed in 2006 by local residents concerned at the decline in blue penguin populations.
Its aim is to conserve the South Island West Coast blue penguins and their habitat. The Trust raises funds for further research on the penguins and works with the community to raise awareness through education and advocacy. Blue Penguins are a near threatened species in slow decline and need our protection from coastal development, predators, dogs and traffic.
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.
Ian Davidson-Watts – Trustee
Ian shifted from the UK to the West Coast with his family in 2009 taking up a position of Grey District Council’s Environmental Services Manager. He had six years in the British Army Air Corps before re-training as an ecologist in 1994 gaining a PhD in animal ecology.
He has worked for England’s statutory nature conservation agency, English Nature (now called Natural England) and headed the ecology team for the Defence Ministry in the UK and Cyprus before moving to the Coast.
Ian is fascinated by New Zealand’s biodiversity and jumped at the chance of getting involved in the Trust. He also has a love of bats and has authored a number of scientific papers on the ecology of bats in Europe. As well as his involvement with the Trust he is assisting DOC with research projects on our native mammals.
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.
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.
Robyn Janes – Media
Robyn joined the Trust in October 2010 after a 16 year career as a journalist, most recently as a reporter on TVNZ’s Close Up programme. She now runs Media Fix, a communications and television production company based in Hokitika.
Robyn loves the outdoors and is relishing the opportunity to learn more about the blue penguin. She hopes to raise the profile of blue penguins, and the trust, to help maintain the penguin populations on the West Coast.