Controversial broadcaster Paul Henry backed the call to turn Marineland into a marine animal welfare and education centre during a recent visit to Napier.

Friends of Marineland spokesperson Emily Otto said when she heard Henry was coming to Hawke's Bay as part of a promotional tour for his newly released book Outraged she decided to make contact with him after a part of the book she read "struck a chord" with her.

"He said that what Napier needed was a majority on the council who had the foresight to say 'we are going to have a Marineland which will be as important to our future as it was to the past. It will be a financial and social windfall.' What an outrageous waste of an opportunity."

When Henry arrived in Napier for a book signing she passed on one of the Friends of Marineland flyers which he took with him to read.


"He was very generous in his time to talk about Marineland."

She said Henry had the view that the facility, were it to be revamped, needed to be able to pay its own way rather than rely on taxpayers' funding, although she believed the ratepayers would still get a good deal as the idea promised so much in return.

"I explained that while the Friends are trying to encourage the council to look at the concept of redevelopment in the direction of wildlife rescue and education we were in agreement that we essentially want the same thing at the end of the day - Marineland with animals, saved, revamped and reopened to the public," Mrs Otto said.

"He wished us all the best with our efforts and I told him I'd keep him in the loop."

However, Mayor Bill Dalton has said that, while the idea of having some sort of wildlife facility in the city had not been ruled out, it was unlikely to be situated at the former Marineland site.

Mr Dalton was happy to pick up an invitation last week to visit the strongest and youngest proponents of a re-vamped Marineland marine sanctuary and education centre.

Brianna, Zarah and Amelia Otto had asked Mr Dalton to meet with them to hear their views about creating a marine wildlife centre and said he had no hesitation in calling to see them before they set out for school last week.

"The girls invited me and I was delighted to go - that is my role - to meet with people."


Mrs Otto said she was buoyed by the way Mr Dalton told her daughters how he admired their determination in trying to get a marine centre built.

"They want a marine animal recovery centre and that is a nice pursuit - but it won't be at Marineland."

Mr Dalton said the principal problem was the pool and pumping systems.

"They are in such a condition that they are not recoverable."

Mrs Otto said the Friends of Marineland were continuing to gather support from international animal rescue and rehabilitation facilities from around the world to retain the site for a marine centre and would not give up their fight.