Twelve-hundred oil covered birds have been found dead so far in the aftermath of the grounding of the container ship Rena in the Bay of Plenty.
Another 200 or so have survived.[image:3374:third:right]
The birds are being cleaned and cared for at a wildlife centre near Tauranga.
A centre manager Bill Smith says just under half of the birds saved birds are little blue penguins, which he says seem to be more hardy and feisty than other birds.
Mr Smith says it's important to get the birds back swimming, to help return their feathers to their natural waterproof condition.
He says the birds will be released when it is safe to do so.
Oil discovered deep under sand
Oil that has leaked from the Rena is being found up to 30 centimetres under the sand on some Bay of Plenty beaches.
Up to 350 tonnes of oil has spilled from the ship.
Maritime New Zealand teams and local iwi were out over the weekend assessing how deep oil has penetrated beaches.
In Maketu, clumps of oil were found about 30 centimetres down in places.
Maritime New Zealand says oil has also been found 20 centimetres under the sand in the middle of Papamoa Beach.