Tahi in Situ - Sumner Esplanade
'Tahi' is a hand-built sculpture made out of natural black clay that addresses the sustainability of the white-flippered penguin/kororā in an uncertain world. Like Dr Seuss’s the Lorax who “speaks for the trees'' this white-flippered wonder has been chosen by his colony to stand up and speak for the seas.
These beautiful creatures are one of the world's smallest penguin species. They measure no more than 30cm in height and 1.5kg in weight. They are blueish grey in appearance like their cousins; the little blue penguin. What sets them apart is the white feathers that adorn the edges of their flippers. They are the only birds found uniquely in the Canterbury/Waitaha region with 2,200 pairs breeding pairs in Banks Peninsula and 1800 on Motunau Island.
Pre-European settlement there were tens of thousands of white flippered penguins, but in August 2010 the species was listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.
These penguins spend significant periods of time at sea, typically fishing within 700m of the shore. Sadly, they are frequently caught in nearshore set nets. Like many seabirds these penguins are also severely threatened by global warming, which reduces prey availability and leads to starvation, particularly of the chicks and young inexperienced penguins.
Tahi coming to life