Grey Main School Feb 2017, Hokitika beach activity

Education plays a key part in the West Coast Penguin Trust’s activities. We are welcomed into schools, armed with Kevin the taxidermy Kororā and Toni the Tawaki (fiordland crested penguin; the South Island West Coast’s second resident penguin). We visit schools and educate the students about penguins, thus encouraging discussions about the environment and conservation issues. It is never a difficult mission to get the students, and staff we should add, to fall in love with penguins, excited to find out that they have these wonderful creatures on their local beaches and then devastated to find out the struggle of survival they face due to humans! Using our Blue Penguins & Other Seabirds resource book, which links games and activities throughout the entire curriculum, fitting into any subject, the schools get involved in activities to learn lots of facts and then moving on to learning how to become the ‘Guardians of their penguin’ and taking the message home to their local communities.

Many schools have gone on to being involved in penguin projects where they have built nest boxes for local colonies, set up trapping lines and monitored and observed local beaches, carried out beach clean ups and raised awareness in the community with newspaper articles, leaflets and presentations.

The school projects are invaluable and we are always very grateful for all the hard work and enthusiasm that goes into these projects.

Penguin and Seabird Educational Resource – now in second edition

The Trust has developed a penguin and seabird education resource aligned to the NZ Curriculum especially for the West Coast but it will be of value for educators and children everywhere, particularly coastal areas of New Zealand, and whether at school, home or youth group.  The resource has recently been updated and improved and you can down load it and/or request a hard copy (scroll down for details.)

“Blue Penguins & Other Seabirds. Activities for exploration and action for schools and community groups” is aimed at children in the age range 5 to 9 but can be adapted for younger or older children.  The goal is for local people to learn about and take action for the wildlife in their own back yard.  Research has also shown that children gain essential values for the environment and a lifelong connectedness to nature in this age group.

Fun learning activities are included within the education resource, including games and arts and crafts. With all the resources on line, they are readily available to home school parents and students and indeed anyone with an interest in sharing a love for and interest in the coastal environment with children.

The project focuses on blue penguins but includes sooty shearwaters (both species are in Gradual Decline, 2005 NZ Threat Classification System), Fiordland Crested Penguins or Tawaki (Nationally Endangered) and Westland Petrels (Range Restricted), all in their natural habitat. The coastal habitat of these species on the West Coast has, as it has around NZ, been modified or disturbed by humans and their activities.

We welcome any feedback on the resource and we would also love to receive photographs and stories as you have a go at the various activities. Please send them to us at

Download the Education Resource – Second Edition out now!

The resource is available for download as a PDF, after completing the form below.
This web-friendly version is 59 pages – 7.8MB.

If you would like a beautiful hard copy of the resource, please email


When using the education resource, we regularly refer to the LEARNZ videos that are used in conjunction with the resource, and they can be found here on vimeo:


Other useful resources

NZ Tracker

Have a look at this great resource to help you identify tracks in the sand at your beach:


Nest box designs

And our latest advice about building nest boxes:


Year 10 Ecology Curriculum readily available here:

Our education resource targets primary school age, however it is possible to adapt our book to some secondary student work. The Trust is keen to connect with all education groups and to share resources and encourage schools to work together collaboratively.

Erica Jar at Buller High School, created a Year 10 ecology unit of work for her class and kindly shared it with us to edit and make penguin and seabird relevant. Those notes and lesson plans are now available here, in a zip file, with grateful thanks to Erica:

Penguin Ecology Year 10 Lesson Notes (Erica Jar, Buller High School, 2017)

We hope they will still offer useful value, despite an ever changing curriculum.

Schools taking action

A page for each school is being developed – work in progress!