Wetlands once covered much of Aotearoa New Zealand, providing a habitat for rare plants and native birds, and helping to improve water quality and manage flood risk.
But ninety percent of New Zealand’s original wetlands have been destroyed and this unique habitat will continue to disappear unless we protect it.
Through WWF-New Zealand’s Community Conservation Fund, this year WWF and the Tindall Foundation are supporting two local projects to help conserve Aotearoa’s precious wetland habitats.
A grant has been awarded to the Matuku Reserve Trust for its ‘Matuku Link’ project – an initiative that aims to protect and restore 37 hectares of the Te Henga Wetland, Auckland’s largest mainland wetland.
Te Henga Wetland is home to a wide range of native animals and threatened species, including the matuku (bittern), pekapeka-tou-roa (long tailed bat), pūweto (spotless crake) and the reintroduced pāteke (brown teal). It also plays an important role in sequestering carbon to help tackle climate change and slowing water to manage the risks of floods in the area.
WWF’s support will help the Matuku Reserve Trust grow their volunteer numbers and double their revegetation efforts. The Trust currently has 20-30 volunteers growing, planting and weeding wetland plants every week, and one extra day of volunteer coordinator time will help to grow 7,000 extra native wetland plants at Matuku Link’s onsite nursery.
WWF has also awarded a grant to the Mangapārae Papakainga Trust in Whātātūtū for its vital work to restore the Mangapārae wetland on Aotearoa’s East Coast - an area heavily impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle and by consistent erosion and flooding.
This whānau-led ecological restoration project aims to restore the whenua and work with the wider community and hapū to reintroduce wildlife like the weka and various tuna.
Through its restoration work the Trust hopes to transform Mangapārae into a haven for endangered species including ngutukākā (kākābeak), and support native fish, birds, and other wildlife populations. Benefits will flow into the wider ecological area, as the Mangapārae wetland connects to the Mangatū and Waipaoa rivers.
Dr Virginia Tamanui, Mangapārae Trust CEO, hopes the wetland management and restoration, alongside iwi environmental education plans, will establish a blueprint for future generations and build a foundational awareness of our interconnectedness with the well-being of the land for our own well-being.
WWF-New Zealand is proud to support these two community-led projects, which are playing an important part in helping Aotearoa’s wetlands – and the wildlife that depend on them – thrive in the future.