What we do

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What we do

The Tawaki Trust is the logical continuation of the Tawaki Project, which was founded in 2014 by Thomas Mattern and Ursula Ellenberg. At that stage, tawaki (Fiordlad penguins) were an enigma even though it was one of three penguin species that live and breed on the NZ mainland. Very little was known about the species and it was assumed that it was one of the rarest penguin species with just 3,000 breeding pairs left.  Since it’s first field season 2014/15, the Tawaki Project has helped to gain a significantly better understanding of the species. the project work resulted in the IUCN redlist improving the of tawaki/Fiordland penguins threat status from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘near threatened’ in 2020.

New Zealand hosts four of the world’s seven crested penguin species (‘tawaki’), many of which are as ranked as threatened as tawaki/Fiordland penguins once were. And most of them as little known and understudied as tawaki were before the Tawaki Project started. The first step to improve those species threat rankings is to look at those species. The basic questions we need to address are:  How many are there? Are their numbers increasing or declining? What are the causes for these developments? And what can we do to help those species.

The ultimate goal is to see all our crested penguins threat rankings improved.

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