Fears the home of a little blue penguin colony on Waiheke Island could be a victim of a controversial development have infuriated some island locals.
It comes after a fight against marine developers, with mana whenua iwi Ngāti Pāoa who have been camping at the site, to oppose Tony Mair's 186-berth marina proposal for Putiki Bay Kennedy Point.
On their side is Mainfreight founder Bruce Plested who called the marine project a "disgrace".
Now in line is Waiheke Island's Native Bird Rescue who say they were asked on Wednesday morning to evict 34 penguins on the break-wall to avoid being killed.
Developers say they take their "environmental responsibilities extremely serious", adding they are working on new "predator-free penguin habitats" for the birds.
But wildlife rescuer Karen Saunders said: "I was absolutely shocked and couldn't believe it."
The phone conversation was said to be between herself and a 4Sight Consulting ecologist working for the Kennedy Point marina developers.
Saunders claims what's happening is animal cruelty and illegal under the Wildlife Act.
"Lots of phone calls and emails later and the work was not going ahead that day. But I felt sick, I felt powerless.
"As of next week, the penguins will be evicted with no home to go to."
Saunders rescues and rehabilitates wildlife, and the penguins have no other home.
"Their habitat on land has been destroyed by the ferry terminal so they have resorted to the breakwater wall.
"What am I meant to do with them?
"With my limited time, resources, and experience of a situation where corporate destroys the environment and threatens the lives of our taonga, I am at a disadvantage."
The Save Kennedy Point (SKP) organisation support Saunders and her team.
A SKP spokesperson said, "The issue is still to be discussed by the Supreme Court."
In a Facebook post they described the eviction as "unbelievable".
"It is not for a community group to provide the resources to be available to manage the conditions of consent of a developer.
"Who is going to pay for the time, effort, skill and stress involved?
"Where is the penguin management plan, and if NBR is a core part of that, why are they finding out Friday before the following week of the anticipated work?"
Plested said he had given opponents SKP around $40,000 to pay for legal fees.
He told the Herald he has a house on Waiheke and that locals have no interest in a marina.
SKP hopes to go to court this month.
Mair made a public announcement this week that those working in the marina development were working alongside Forest & Bird Hauraki Islands Branch to resolve the penguin issue.
Saunders said that is not true.
A lawyer is set to represent Waiheke Island's Native Bird Rescue.
Scott Fickling, Kennedy Point Marina project manager, said on Saturday night that there would be no disturbing of any little blue penguins or their burrows within the next three weeks.
The development would see only 5 per cent of the existing seawall and breakwater being touched.
"We have been working in the background for a while on a number of options to create additional predator-free penguin habitats on the perimeter of the marina," Fickling said.
"Once these are further developed we will share them."
He said he had been working with ecologists who had been assisting the "marina team".
"Both myself and the entire marina team take our responsibilities extremely seriously. Considerable time and resources have been invested in ensuring the marina is as environmentally neutral as possible. When finished it will represent 'best practice' in terms of its environmental footprint."
Waiheke Local Board chairwoman Cath Handley said work should stop on the break-wall until a definitive way can be found to rehouse the penguins.
"It does look to me that rehousing of any penguins wasn't organised as part of the resource consent. I would expect appropriate rehousing of penguins would have happened.
"It shouldn't be something that happens on the hoof," said Handley, saying Saunders should not have been rung and asked if she could come and rescue the penguins.
"I have contacted the Department of Conservation and expect to talk with their director of operations in Auckland."