Hoiho finds its way next to State Highway 1

A new mural depicting a yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho), has been erected on Cumberland St. Photo:...
A new mural depicting a yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho), has been erected on Cumberland St. Photo: Gregor Richardson
One of New Zealand’s most endangered birds has found a new home beside Dunedin’s main northern arterial route.

The yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho), which is unique to New Zealand’s southern coasts, has been immortalised in a new mural on Cumberland St (State Highway 1).

The mural, painted by artist Toothfish, is leading up to this year’s Wild Dunedin Festival, or the New Zealand Festival of Nature, which intends to raise funds for hoiho conservation.

Toothfish said it was good to be contributing to the cause but the declining hoiho population was still "heartbreaking".

"When I was a young fish at school, as it were, they were quite common along the peninsula.

"Now they’re on the way out and we believe climate change is one of the driving factors."

Toothfish is an environmental art co-operative established in 2010, with a focus on tackling environmental issues through art.

Toothfish himself said the mural was still a work-in-progress and would include text and a background over the coming days.

It was great to brighten up an otherwise dull-looking area, he said.

"I, or we, have been eyeing that wall for a long time so it’s good to get something on there.

"It’s very much about promoting the festival, and if somebody wants to come along and do something better then that’s great."

Otago Shore & Land Trust chief executive Jerard Halden said it was critical to protect hoiho. The festival would rally support for them.