About the Penguin Trust

Blue Penguin and chicks

Blue Penguin and chicks

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 (korora), Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) and other threatened seabirds through participation in community events, media liaison and school education programmes from Karamea to Haast.

The Trust conducts research into the ecology of  both 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 penguin management and protection.

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

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

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

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.

Leon Dalziel – Trustee

Leon Dalziel & Bud

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.

Robin Long – Trustee

Robin Long

Robin Long

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.

Marg Costello – Trustee

Marg Costello

Marg Costello

Margaret Costello grew up in Oamaru before gaining a degree in chemistry from Otago University.  She first came to theWest Coast in 1976 and has spent many years in Harihari bringing up a family and working at the South Westland Area School teaching mathematics and as office manager.  She and her husband moved to live fulltime in their Punakaiki ‘bach’ in 2013.  Margaret is a keen tramper and became interested in the WCPT through participating in the annual penguin count.



Inger Perkins – Manager

Inger Perkins

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 and works close to Hokitika beach with penguins living just a few hundred yards away, spreading her time between the Trust, the South Island Kokako Charitable Trust, the Walking Access Commission and the Hokitika Green Team. 

Matt Charteris – Ranger

Matt Charteris

Matt Charteris

Matt lives with his family and has been working with wildlife in the Buller for 12 years, after living and working with the wildlife of Otago, Fiordland and the southern offshore islands for 12 years. Involved with the Trust when it began, Matt has returned as Ranger for the 2018 season, bringing his considerable field ecologist skills to bear for monitoring blue penguins and other Trust fieldwork.



Lucy Waller – Education Ranger

Lucy Waller

Growing up in the outdoors of the wild west coast of Scotland, spending her time playing in the mountains, swimming in any lake, river or sea she found and wildlife spotting for hours, Lucy is truly at home here on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. She finds peace and excitement in wildlife conservation and lives to see animals, unthreatened and in the wild. She has worked in education roles throughout her working life so far and her motto is “inspire, excite and motivate young minds, to ‘stop, look and listen’ in nature”. It is a “dream come true” for her to be living by a beach, home to penguins and seabirds and to be privileged enough to be able to join her two life’s loves together; education and wildlife conservation.


Gerald Freeman – Predator Control Ranger, Cape Foulwind

Gerald Freeman

Gerald Freeman

Gerald was born in Wales and has had a varied career, first working in catchment research in Wales and volunteering for the RSPB as raptor observer and nest warden.  He studied cartography before emigrating to Australia to work on geological surveys in the East Pilbara.  He came to New Zealand on holiday in 1977 and stayed!  He worked for DOC in a variety of capacities, including trapping on Kaki (black stilt) and Mohua projects, resident ranger on Takapourewa/Stephens Island, hut warden and track worker on the Milford, Hollyford, Dart/Rees, Greenstone, Heaphy and Abel Tasman tracks plus weed control in Golden Bay.  He helped establish a trapping project with Forest & Bird in the Rainy Creek area near Reefton, initially hoping to give the South Island kokako a chance at survival following a sighting there in 2007.  Gerald is also a member of the Buller Conservation Volunteers and has a long involvement in tramping, mountaineering and some caving. 

Reuben Lane Hon Trustee and former Ranger

Reuben Lane

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 among other projects.
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.


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