Penguin fence complete at last

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 05:00 25/08/2014
West Coast penguin fence
Sarah-Jane O'Connor/Fairfax NZ
SAVING LIVES: Reef Barltrop, 4, and Eva van Mierlo, 6, celebrate the opening of the Punakaiki penguin fence with Kori the Penguin.

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A 2.6km fence to stop penguins being hit on a West Coast highway is complete.

More than 60 birds have been killed on State Highway 6, between Punakaiki and Fox River, since the West Coast Penguin Trust started a "penguin mortality database" in 2006, chairwoman Kerry-Jayne Wilson said.

To limit the road deaths, the trust built a fence between the beach and the road. Blue penguins, the world's smallest, live around New Zealand and Australia.

But populations on the West Coast are in decline. The trust paid for 750m of fenceline, and sourced the rest of the funding in the community.

Buller District Mayor Garry Howard officially "closed" the fence on Friday . With about 700 posts, it was the "longest penguin fence in New Zealand, and most likely the first one," he said.

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