There's no question penguins have quirky personalities and the small colony at Napier National Aquarium has won the hearts of many.

The aquarium is now giving the public a chance to vote for their favourite flippered friend in the first ever National Aquarium of New Zealand Penguin of the Year Awards.

Throughout the year, the keepers have been voting on which flightless friend deserves both the "good" and "naughty" penguin title each month.

The 2017 winners were Timmy and Betty, with Timmy nearly breaking the internet, as his "naughty penguin of the month" title captured special interest.


At that time, he was always trying to steal fish, knocking other penguins out of the way to get the food. He flicked sand, often fell over and when getting up, continued to flick sand everywhere including into his trainer's eyes and in the food.

Timmy's 'steal food' post reached 35,000 people on social media.

He was originally found on a local beach with a spinal injury. He was unable to walk, let alone stand. He dragged himself around the beach with his beak and flippers.

As a result he's had chiropractic work done and went to Massey for some initial treatment, but due to his injuries he was unable to return to the wild.

National Aquarium acting manager Kerry Hewitt says followers of their Facebook and Instagram pages eagerly await the messages each month.

"Over a year on, the little penguins are as popular as ever, with lots of people specifically coming to see the penguins as a result of the social media posts.

"Many of them are also taking up the opportunity to have a very special penguin encounter where they can feed the penguins and learn about conservation and the challenge penguins face in our environment."

Each penguin is unique and has their own special story, as they were brought into the aquarium either because they were abandoned as chicks, are partially sighted, became sick in the wild or were injured in dog attacks.

Some are even missing flippers due to getting caught in fishing nylon.

"These special penguins really have captured the heart of Facebook followers, and enabled the aquarium to share its conversation messages."

The National Aquarium acts as a rehabilitation centre for most of the little penguins, sending them back out into the wild when they are recovered and ready.

Some however, are unfortunately not strong enough to return to their natural habitats, and call the aquarium their permanent home.

The first round of voting to select the top two finalists is open from today until October 10 on the National Aquarium website where people can also learn more about the penguins and what makes each of them unique.

Two finalists will be announced for the public to vote on through a poll on social media platforms.

The announcement of Penguin of the Year is due to be made on October 31.