Not only is the wildlife centre MASH for penguins, shags and seals, it’s Noah’s ark for dotterels.
But for many birds—more than 2000 at the time of writing—the centre is neither of these things; it is simply the morgue. Outside a tent with a hand-scrawled sign reading “Dead things here”, I meet Stuart Hunter, a young wildlife pathologist from Massey. Over the previous week, he has conducted 250 necropsies on oiled birds. Some were so thickly coated they looked like “a lump of tar with a beak”, he says. It has been a harrowing experience for all the staff. On the first big day of the spill, 700 birds came through the centre’s doors.