Robert Webb is no stranger to rescuing wild birds but now the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre needs a bit of a financial rescue to fund a new boat.

A $7000 funding shortfall for a new rescue boat means the centre is unable to mount sea rescue operations for injured birds, including the iconic albatross.

Manager Robert Webb said the centre had been without a boat now for four months, which was a concern as it was at this time of the year he started seeing injured seabirds.

"It's definitely not the time to be boatless. Every day that we don't have a rescue boat is potentially another day that we're unable to help injured seabirds, especially the larger species such as albatross, giant petrel and mollymawk," Webb said.


The previous boat which was used for 12 years, started leaking. Unfortunately, the cost of repairs were prohibitive and the best option was a new rescue boat.

Robert Webb with a Giant Petrel that was successfully released back at sea. Photo / Supplied
Robert Webb with a Giant Petrel that was successfully released back at sea. Photo / Supplied

Webb said the centre was able to meet a large proportion of the new boat costs – about $40,000 for a new 5.1m McLay boat, but was still short $7000 and had exhausted all funding avenues available through grants.

"Many of the grants we apply for don't provide support for items such as rescue boats, so we're really relying on the public to help us make up the shortfall," Webb said.

"I can't stress enough how important a rescue boat is for the bird centre. A common occurrence is rescuing shags with fishing gear wrapped around them as well as red-beaked gulls who often get themselves in trouble around the Marsden Point oil refinery."

"We're also part of the area's oil spill planning team and need to be able to respond quickly in the event of an oil spill."

As well as rescuing seabirds, the centre uses a rescue boat for releasing birds further out to sea, particularly near the Hen and Chicken or Poor Knights Islands.

"That's where we release larger birds such as albatross, who like the deeper water and a ready supply of food," Webb said.

The bird centre cares for about 1500 birds a year, including 20–30 seabirds per month.


To make a donation to the Bird Centre's rescue boat fund via internet banking, visit its website: