Complacency warning over dolphins

from Hawke's Bay Today

The granddaughter-in-law of Napier businessman and benefactor Sir Russell Pettigrew is hoping for a last-ditch turnaround decision to replace the dolphins at Marineland - despite the likely outcome that it will be rejected.

Mayor Barbara Arnott has previously said the council's hands were tied by Government restrictions on replacing dolphins, unless a petition circulating forced MPs to change their minds.

But Rachael Pettigrew, 35, hopes the Napier City Council will do a U-turn and give their backing to paying $10 million to spruce up Marineland so it could house captive-bred bottlenose dolphins.

"I grew up in Hamilton but I always knew there were dolphins at Marineland in Napier. And when we moved here, the first thing my 12-year-old nephew said was that he wanted to come and see the dolphins.

"I'm wondering if people in Napier have become a bit complacent, and I wonder if they realise what a huge icon they have with the dolphins here. When most New Zealanders think of Napier, they think of dolphins.

"If a new company was trying to set up a business here it would have the huge cost of branding. But we already have the branding as this is a 40-year tradition, so it should be kept alive.

"I went to see the dolphins at Marineland a couple of years ago, and my 12-year-old daughter Kayleigh swam with them. It was an amazing experience."

She said there was a family history behind her interest as her husband Chaye Pettigrew, 33, is Sir Russell Pettigrew's grandson, and his grandfather was the man behind Pettigrew's Penguin Pool, a tourist attraction based in the city about 40 years ago.

"I first saw the public meeting advertised in the Hawke's Bay Today and I wanted to see what was happening, so it just went from there. I'm more of an organiser than a doer, so I'm helping to coordinate the petition," she said.

Cr Harry Lawson organised a petition to replace Shona, who died two months ago. He has 11,088 signatures so far. Mrs Pettigrew said the Friends of Marineland were also hoping to hold a free open day at the Marine Parade attraction on Sunday.

* Submissions to the draft Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) about the future of Marineland were received from former Napier local-authority trading enterprise director Ron Rowe, Stan Simmonds, Megan Welsby, and Marie Harding.

They were to be discussed at a full council meeting today at 3pm.