Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute member Alastair Judkins and his dog Mena have been accepted into the Department of Conservation (DOC) Conservation Dog Programme.
Mena will contribute to the penguin research and conservation efforts of the institute and the Penguin Education and Awareness Programme.
She will find penguin breeding and roosting sites to gain a better understanding of the population and density of little blue penguins along Kaikoura's coastline.
Although dogs are a threat to penguins on land, Mena will protect them by finding nesting sites at risk from roaming dogs. Nest boxes can then be provided.
Dogs have been used in conservation projects in New Zealand since the 1890s when conservationist Richard Henry used hunting dogs to translocate little spotted kiwi and kakapo from the mainland of the west coast to Resolution Island in Fiordland.
That effort was ultimately futile as stoats eventually arrived on the island but not before Henry used his dogs to locate the kiwi which he then transported to Kapiti Island, about 5km off the lower North Island, saving the species from certain extinction.
All little spotted kiwi alive today originated from those birds.