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Royal Society Talk - Biology and Conservation of Kororā

Ticket Information

  • Free Admission


  • Tue 5 Mar 2024, 6:00pm


All Ages

Royal Society Lecture with Dr John Cockrem (Massey University) - Biology and conservation of kororā (little penguins).

Kororā (little penguins) are declining and have disappeared from many locations around New Zealand coastlines. Dr Cockrem will describe the biology of the kororā, and the conservation status and current threats to the species from human activities and from climate change. He will present studies of the annual cycle, breeding biology, and feeding, and show results from at-sea tracking of individuals. Dr Cockrem began penguin field work more than 30 years ago with Adelie and emperor penguins in Antarctica. His recent work is focussed on studies of kororā to contribute to kororā conservation, together with advocacy for kororā. He has established nestbox colonies at Napier Port and on Mana Island and, working with community groups, in Tasman Bay, Golden Bay and Waiheke Island.

When: Tuesday 5 March, 6pm (doors open 5:30pm
Cost: Gold coin donation

About the speaker: Prof. John Cockrem has worked with penguins for more than 35 years. His first field trips for penguin research were to Antarctica to work with Adelie and emperor penguins. This work was focused on individual variation in stress hormone responses of birds to environmental stimuli, and on relationships between these responses and personality. This penguin work continued with stress hormone studies of kororā at Oamaru in the South Island.

More recently, his penguin work has changed to focus on breeding biology, tracking, advocacy for penguin conservation, and work with community groups around the country. The kororā (little penguin) is now his main study species.

His kororā work has included the establishment of new nestbox study sites on Kapiti Island and Mana Island, at Napier Port, Port Tarakohe in Golden Bay, Kaiteriteri in Tasman Bay, Waiheke Island, and Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast. Field studies, in collaboration with colleagues at Napier Port and in community groups, are being conducted to determine breeding success and survival of kororā at different locations around New Zealand. Tracking devices that record GPS location and diving data have been used to determine foraging areas and diving behaviour for kororā (and also for hoiho in Otago).
Dr Cockrem is a trustee of the Mohua Golden Bay Penguin Trust and Patron of the Tasman Bay Blue Penguin Trust. He provides professional advice about penguins to local councils, writes penguin management plans, and works on-site with construction companies undertaking coastal work in penguin habitats. He provides expert witness evidence in court cases against coastal development activities that adversely affect penguins. His advocacy regularly includes media interviews in relation to penguins in New Zealand and overseas.

Dr Cockrem's work in which he applies his kororā experience and communication skills to advocate for kororā conservation was recognised by the award of the Massey University Exceptional Research Citizenship Medal for 2022.

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