In 2012 a wetland was created at DU Director Dan Steele’s property, Blue Duck Station in the Ruapehu district, but things haven’t gone exactly as planned. Water has tunnelled under the pumice layer – the hills are predominantly pumice – to the next hard layer, first creating an underground leak, which DU’s John and Gail Cheyne noticed during a visit.
Next came the washout: Dan says, “We first noticed pumice floating down the Retaruke River before we found the washout.”
As of publication date, the problem is still waiting for a solution.
Meantime Dan has not been idle but had to climb out of his gumboots for a day or two to head to the city, see The biggest conservation project on Earth.
On a parcel of land at Mangaone in Raetihi, in an area that was once an unproductive, narrow, boggy drain bound by strong ridges, co-owners Graeme Berry and Paddy Chambers saw a potential habitat for waterfowl.
DU Patron Di Pritt says, “Since Graeme and Paddy Chambers have been involved at Mangaone, from 2004, they have created six major wetland areas – ranging from an acre to 10 acres – which are all fenced and they have planted about 38 acres. Another four major ponds have also been created.
“It is an amazing achievement, and was fully supported by the previous owner, Jon Preston.”
Their latest project is Courtney’s Close, a wetland area they named after the Horizons employee who helped with the project.
They created it by splitting a 300-acre paddock in half and building a 650-metre deer fence. The wetland area now consists of four ponds outside the fence, and three, with room for two more, enclosed by the fence.
This means animals have access to water but are excluded from the lower wetlands and impurities are filtered out along the way.
Inside the fences Graeme and his partner, Bang, have planted natives, protected from the deer.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was delighted to receive a Distinction Award from the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects at the NZILA Resene Pride of Place Landscape Architecture Awards for 2013 in April.
The citation for the award states that Pekapeka Wetland provides a range of experience opportunities for users and acknowledges the contributing work of Shannon Bray Landscape Architect.
Stephen Cave, HBRC’s Operation Environmental Manager said “This is one of three awards for Pekapeka Wetland since 2009, realising its champion value and raising the awareness of wetlands throughout Hawke’s Bay.
“The award from NZILA is a great reflection on the restoration work happening in Hawke’s Bay and we are very honoured. It is estimated this award puts Pekapeka Wetland in the top five percent of landscape architecture projects undertaken throughout New Zealand in recent years.”
The award recognises Pekapeka Wetland as a high quality interpretive site for wetland restoration. It is noted for integrating public accessibility with educational features, using local materials and stories.
Stephen is quick to acknowledge a number of the project’s key supporters, particularly Shannon Bray, Waa Harris, Peter Dunkerley, the Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Stortford Lodge, Eastern and Central Community Trust and the preliminary work of Titchener Monzingo Aitken Ltd.
Iwi groups plus many children from schools (particularly Pukehou School) and Kiwi Conservation Club all played a key role in planting areas around the swamp.
The improvement of Southland’s Waituna Lagoon and catchment health and wellbeing has become the focus for a number of organisation with statutory roles for this unique site.
The Waituna Lagoon is part of the 20,000ha Awarua Wetland, a designated Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and one of the best remaining examples of a natural coastal lagoon in New Zealand. It is culturally significant to the local Ngāi Tahu people, acknowledged under the Ngāi Tahu claims Settlement Act 1998.
In recognition of the importance of this natural resource, the Department of Conservation (DOC), Environment Southland (ES), the Southland District Council (SDC), Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Te Rūnanga o Awarua have formally come together to work alongside the community and other stakeholders for the long-term benefit of Waituna Lagoon, its catchment and community.
Concern was raised in February 2011 about the poor health of the lagoon. Monitoring information from ES and DOC, drawn together for the Report on the State of Southland’s Freshwater Environment, showed it was at risk of flipping into an algae- dominated state.
A multi-pronged emergency response was initiated and remedial practices were put in place, further scientific investigations were undertaken and communication channels established for sharing information.
While flipping remains a potential risk, the focus is now a long-term one to improve the health and wellbeing of the Lagoon, its catchment and community. Formalising the statutory partners’ group is a strong, futurefocused commitment ensuring their actions are aligned and complementary, and that they are working together in the most effective way possible.Setting and achieving goals will require considerable effort over a number of years. An organised structure to guide efforts allows for a comprehensive and coordinated approach designed to achieve greater improvements than if organisations worked separately and avoids duplication of effort. Working in partnership with the local farmers, the community and industry will be crucial to the success of the project.
To recognise the establishment of this formal arrangement, a ceremony took place on August 8 at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff, where the terms of reference to guide the on-going relationship between the partners of the Waituna Partners Group were officially signed.
A web camera recently installed at Waituna Lagoon is providing scientists with regularly updated images of Walker’s Bay, where the lagoon was opened to the sea in late July. Aquatic Ecologist, Dr Andy Hicks said the main benefit of the web camera was to help monitor the lagoon’s opening and closing processes, and to help with the long-term monitoring of environmental conditions in the lagoon.
“The camera allows us to keep an eye on the lagoon without having to physically be there,” he said. Setting up the remotely activated camera was a challenge, plus occasional issues mostly related to the weather. Environment Southland technical staff have now resolved them.
Dr Hicks said the images taken by the camera would be useful for a variety of additional purposes. Recreational boaters would be able to check if lake conditions are suitable for boating, and if the images prove clear enough, the web camera could even be used for monitoring local bird populations.
To help protect the birds, a trapping programme is underway to get rid of ferrets and other pests to provide a safer environment for rare native birds in the Wairarapa Moana wetlands.
These include Australasian bittern, royal spoonbill and the dabchick. Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) started trapping around Matthews lagoon and Boggy Pond in July. Using covered traps that exclude birds, pest animal officer Steve Playle was successful straight away, catching 13 ferrets and three feral cats in the first month.
“These are large and powerful predators that need to catch and kill regularly. If we can control them around the wetlands, the wetland birds are bound to increase in numbers,” he said.
Hawke’s Bay wetland bird expert and Ducks Unlimited president John Cheyne, said numbers of Australasian bittern were low in a count taken earlier this year, and the work being done by officers like Steve should help raise bird numbers in the wetlands.
“There is a lot of great wetland habitat at Wairarapa Moana, but I only heard eight bitterns calling. There should be more.
Trapping ferrets and feral cats should allow them and all the other ground-nesting birds to breed more successfully.” The trapping programme is part of a wider project to enhance the wetlands around Wairarapa Moana, involving the councils, DoC, iwi, farmers, environmental groups and the community.
Story courtesy of the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
“We had a great day – about 1600 plants in the ground!” was the enthusiastic report from Jim Law after a successful planting day at Wairio Wetland in southern Wairarapa.
Mainly flaxes and sedges (about 1200) were planted around the southern and south eastern sides of the new dam wall at Stage 4 and 400 Totora and cabbage trees planted went in at Stage 2.
A good turn-out included Martinborough School students and staff, Taratahi trainees, Rangitane members, Rotary members, Greater Wellington Regional Council (who provided the sausage sizzle), some Rabobank staff, DOC staff and a few locals plus some co-opted farm workers - about 60 folks in all.
More clover seed was sown on the dam wall at Stage 4 by Ross Cottle and Jim Campbell.
A good year so far at the Wairio Wetland – in total just over 4000 shrubs, flaxes and trees in the ground and a great new dam wall trapping about 30 hectares of water in Stage 4. There is more to come with plans advancing for the reticulation of water from Mathews Lagoon and Boggy Pond into the Wairio Wetland.
Our intrepid group of AGM attendees visited the Pekapeka Swamp, squeezed in between the railway on the Eastern side, and State Highway 2 on the West. This area is well known to travellers who use SH2 south of Hastings. Older people who passed this way remember the swamp as being totally overgrown by grey willow. Steve Cave, Operations Environmental Manager for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) explained the 98ha site is being restored to protect the cultural and historical value but also to help people understand the significance and important part wetlands play.
When Maori arrived in the area about 1530 this peat swamp, part of the limestone area, would have been very different. Its trip down hill started in 1873 with the dumping of rubble, fill and waste. The rail line was built in 1875. Between 1942 and 1970 channels were dug to drain the swamp, and in 1955 SH2 was straightened, cutting through the western side.
In 1970 Pekapeka was made a reserve. Willow control started in 1984 and finally a management plan to restore the wetland was approved by the HBRC. Helicopter and ground spraying targeted the willows. Community and school groups have put in many volunteer hours at the swamp. A clearing programme improved the flow of water through the wetland, and controlled animal and plant pests.
A plain to restore the wetland was approved by the HBRC in 1998. Work included a weir with a fish passage, to manage wetland flow, and funding allowed the site to be developed as a public reserve. Illegal dumping had continued at Pekapeka for many years and as a reminder of how wetlands had been treated it was decided to leave some rubble and reinforcing rods exposed as a reminder of the past.
Pekapeka opened to the public in 2010. Board walks, observation decks and even hides provide access and viewing points. Information boards give background and there is a picnic area. No toilets though. During duck shooting members of a local club use half the area and it is closed to the public. Club members are also involved in a predator control programme.
Steve said red tape, and resource consents often hold up restoration. So far it has cost them $60,000 for consents, eating into the small amount of funding they do receive. Thank goodness for volunteers.
The plight of the world’s wetlands is highlighted annually by World Wetlands Day, and the 2011 celebration also coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention - an international agreement to promote and protect freshwater environments. See page 14.
Since the agreement was signed in 1971, 186 million hectares of wetlands have been protected throughout the world - including 55,000ha in New Zealand.
Since European settlement New Zealand has lost more than 90 percent of its wetlands - many drained to create farmland and supposedly help with flood control.
Now the Department of Conservation (DOC) and community groups are working to redress the balance aiming to educate people about the importance of wetlands - rated amongst the most important, productive and highly threatened ecosystems in the world.
Wetlands provide a range of crucial ecosystem services such as improving water quality, controlling extreme flooding, regulating carbon levels and supplying fresh water.
DOC refers to wetlands as “cradles of biological diversity” and says they support a high number of threatened plants and animals, as well as providing the greatest concentration of birdlife than any other habitat in New Zealand.
Wetlands are especially important to Māori and have historical importance having provided abundant supplies of food and materials used in everyday life during early times. Flax was used in clothing, mats, kits and ropes; raupo for thatching and dried moss for bedding. Eels, fish and birds from the wetlands were a good food source, and the feathers of birds like the pukeko and bittern were used to adorn cloaks and other garments. The waterways were also an important means of access by waka or canoe. New Zealand species New Zealand wetlands have exceptional habitats - 47 species of rush and 72 species of native sedge alone - as well as a number of endangered plant species that totally depend on the wetland environment.
Migratory birds also depend on chains of suitable wetlands and the survival of threatened species such as the Australasian bittern, brown teal, fernbird, marsh crake and white heron all rely on New Zealand’s remnant wetland areas.
Native fish also need wetlands and eight of New Zealand’s 27 species including inanga, short-finned eels, kokopu and bullies are found in wetlands. Whitebait also spawn in freshwater wetlands.
Nearly 700 hectares of wetlands at Banrock Station are being artificially flooded. This is the first time in five years the area near Kingston-onMurray, has seen flooding.
Banrock Station, in the South Australian Riverland, is on the Ramsar list of internationally significant wetlands.
A new regulator is pumping 2.4 gigalitres of water into the wetlands, a task which will take the next year.
Wetlands manager Christophe Tourenq said the process should mimic the natural wet-dry cycles of the flood plain, boosting the health of native plants and wildlife in the area.
Christophe said they had high water levels all spring and after that water levels would be reduced a little bit during summer.
“After that, again high levels next winter and then we start again to have a dry wetland in two years time.”
He said the process would recreate what happened before the construction of locks and weirs along the Murray River.
Story courtesy Wetland Care Australia.
Our business is to harness community, business and government resources to restore and develop lost wetland areas within New Zealand.