Projects to help the hoiho, just crowned Bird of the Year, are among 168 receiving government grants for community conservaton.
Three Otago projects to help the endangered hoiho, or yellow eyed penguin, will receive about half a million dollars.
Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, said she is pleased at what she calls a "happy coincidence" of the allocation coming just days after the hoiho was named Bird of the Year in Forest and Bird's annual vote.
The hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin, has been proclaimed the victor with more than 12,000 votes - marking the competition's first seabird winner in its 14-year history.
Hoiho are an endangered species and the world's rarest penguin, with only 225 pairs remaining on mainland New Zealand in 2018/19.
They face numerous environmental threats as well as risk of being caught in fishing nets.
"Hoiho live on both land and sea so they are vulnerable to a range of threats resulting in poor breeding and survival rates. This iconic species is in decline have suffered a series of poor breeding seasons and needs all the support it can get to boost hoiho numbers," Ms Sage said.
"DOC's Community Fund enables so much more conservation work to be done by helping community organisations reach their goals of protecting native plants and wildlife and enables more New Zealanders to be active in country's unique conservation challenges."
The money will go towards hiring more staff to protect hoiho, providing animal hospital care for injured penguins and iwi funding to protect breeding grounds.
Projects receiving funds:
- Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust (YEPT) $312,180 to employ additional field staff and establish an urgent conservation management programme
- Dunedin Wildlife Hospital Trust $165,000 to provide hospital care for hoiho, including emergency treatment for predator-inflicted injuries, trauma, diphtheria, malaria, and starvation, and hand-rearing chicks at risk of disease or starvation
- Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu $55,000 to continue to engage a Kaitiaki o Kātiki (Kātiki Ranger) to carry out management at Kātiki Point, the largest hoiho colony and breeding grounds for hoiho, and other taonga species.
Other projects which will get part of the $8 million funding include an attempt to map the birds of Aotearoa, and setting up community conservation centres.