Floating breakwater nears completion

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    The Kennedy Point Marina Development is making serious progress as installation of its floating breakwater nears completion – but community environmental group Protect Pūtiki remain worried the work is having a bigger impact on the bay’s kororā colony than is being reported. Kennedy Point Marina director Kitt Littlejohn says construction has not suffered any further delays due to Covid, after last year’s interruptions, and the project was on schedule to meet its revised deadline of mid-2023.

    Contractors are currently working on installing the marina’s floating breakwater, with 18 of the 23 attenuator pontoons already installed – the last is expected to be done by the end of October, Littlejohn says. The pontoons were built offsite in Whangarei, with manufacturing beginning in early 2021 and the installation in Pūtiki Bay starting last November.

    However, despite Department of Conservation supervision and monitoring reports consistently saying there has been no serious impact on nearby kororā , Protect Pūtiki remain concerned it is not capturing the true impact on the little blue penguins.

    This week the group shared a message chain between its observers about the current construction work.

    Protect Pūtiki observer Helen Fuller monitors the construction most evenings, she says she usually avoids the days now because the noise and sounds of distressed penguins was too upsetting. But a few days ago she went down around lunchtime and was upset by how loud and close to known burrows the work was. “There were five guys working with impact drills less than a metre away from burrow 10, where we know a kororā is currently sitting on an egg.” Helen says the noise was almost painful to her ears when the drills were going and she was much further away, so it must have been terrible for the penguin. She reported it to a DOC kororā expert, who told her they were aware burrow 10 was occupied but it was not a concern since the noise was slightly below set limits.

    “If this kind of work going on so close to a kororā burrow of no concern, what is? It’s ridiculous.”

    These conflicting interpretations of kororā observations between concerned activists, the developer’s experts and DOC officials have been a constant throughout the marina’s construction.
    In June the marina developer pushed back against “the spread of misinformation” about the impacts of the construction on the kororā in a statement from Littlejohn and developer’s ecologist Dr Leigh Bull sent to Gulf News. • Paul Mitchell

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