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During the moulting season, typically under way until the end of April, yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) and other penguin species come ashore to shed old feathers and then grow new ones.
They cannot go to sea to feed until they are waterproof again.
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu hoiho species recovery representative Yvette Couch-Lewis said in the same way people were asked to call out those breaking lockdown rules last year, they should do the same now if they saw people interfering with moulting birds.
"At a time like this ... it’s really important that if you see someone trying to take a selfie with the manu (bird) or wanting to pick one up because it might look unwell, that you politely ask them to refrain," she said.
Department of Conservation marine and coastal species liaison officer Chris Page said that because the birds would remain less mobile and unable to escape to sea through the moult, death or stress to penguins was a risk if birds were disturbed.
Hoiho needed all the help they could get, he said.