Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Penguin signs one for the birds

Penguin sign
MYSTERY: So where are the penguins?

Mangonui seems to have a phantom penguin colony.

That's the way it appeared to the Northern News reporter who spent a recent Saturday in the town making inquiries, following the appearance of road signs saying "Penguins Crossing". Fact is, none of the 20 locals the Northern News spoke to has seen a penguin in the town.

Glenda, of Ray White Real Estate, said she has never seen a penguin.

A town identity we encountered and who wanted to remain anonymous, said he had lived in Mangonui for 62 years and had never seen a penguin.

Our visit to the Four Square shop on the waterfront yielded no sightings by staff or customers.
A poll of seven local drinkers in the Mangonui Hotel turned up no-one who had seen penguins. Constable Dave Reynolds, in the town about four years, has also never seen a penguin.

Calls to the Far North District Council's head office, DOC, and the Far North Regional Council all drew a blank. None of their management knew anything about the signs.

Mayor Wayne Brown, who lives on the Mangonui waterfront, did not know who erected the signs.
Finally, the Northern News solved the mystery. The signs were indeed put up by The Far North District Council even though management didn't seem to know anything about it.

Council employee John Haines, a Cooper's Beach resident, says he had heard the penguins calling, usually just after sunset. He said they burrow in the waterfront rocks and in the grass on the inland side of the road. He said he had heard of one being hit by a car, and another hurt by a dog.

John, a council-employed librarian at the Kaitaia Library said he spoke to Council Parks Officer Alan Camell, who agreed to help. The signs were duly ordered and erected at council expense.


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