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In the council’s submission Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu’s draft Katiki Point management plan, council recreation manager Erik van der Spek writes the area "has potential to be a key site" in the council bid for Unesco Global Geopark status.
"Council believes there is opportunity to develop a facility similar to the [Oamaru] Blue Penguin Colony or the Taiaroa Head albatross centre, which could raise funds that can be used to enhance the site. Improved parking, toilets and other facilities could be incorporated into this," he said.
Ngai Tahu, with the Department of Conservation (Doc), notified the first stage of consultation to create a draft Katiki Point management plan to consolidate the management of the point’s wildlife and historic reserves in April.
Home to the Te Raka a Hineatea Pa site, culturally important to Te Runanga o Moeraki, the site includes a 2ha Doc reserve managed by Penguin Rescue.
The colony on the Moeraki Peninsula, produced 50 chicks this year. Elsewhere in Otago, there were widespread yellow-eyed penguin chick deaths and some colonies produced no chicks. Experts have warned of a possible local extinction of yellow-eyed penguins in the South Island.
Mr van der Spek said the "existing cultural, biodiversity and landscape values should have equal weighting".
"The remaining penguins and all the other wildlife need protection.
"Council believes management options such as restricting numbers or providing managed access via tours, or permit-only access for fishermen and divers may be necessary, along with track realignments, and enforced exclusion of dogs, to better protect wildlife. Council believes there is opportunity to create a sanctuary at Katiki Point with fencing that could both control human and predator access and allow habitat enhancement."
Submissions to the management plan closed yesterday.