World Wetlands Day 2000: New Zealand


Report on the Department of Conservation’s contribution to World Wetlands Day - February 2, 2000


Seventy people including representatives from Ngatiwai, Ngati Manihuri, Omaha Beach Ltd, Boffa Miskell, Forest and Bird, the Ornithological Society, community groups, Auckland Regional Council and Rodney District Councils and the Department of Conservation (DOC) attended a ceremony on site to mark the gifting of the Omaha Kahikatea forest/wetland to the people of New Zealand by Omaha Beach (Manapouri Developments Ltd).

After a welcome and speeches by iwi representatives, John Darby of Omaha Beach Ltd, and Department of Conservation Area Manager Rolien Elliott, the documents were signed in the presence of His Worship the Mayor of Rodney Council.

The event was reported in the local media, and in the ‘NZ Herald’.


World Wetlands Day in the Waikato was celebrated with an event at Hamilton Zoo to launch the National Wetland Trust. The event was co-ordinated and sponsored by Fish & Game, Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council and DOC. The Trust hopes to raise $300,000 for a National Wetland Visitor Centre to be established at Rangiriri, half way between Auckland and Hamilton. The centre will be a national information base and, longer term, will provide practical information for people wanting to manage, restore or create wetlands.

National wetlands awards launched

Around 100 people attended an evening function acknowledge the contributions of the recipients of the inaugural NZ Wetland Conservation Awards. Awards were presented to Keith Thompson for his lifetime contribution to wetland restoration, Waipa District Council for the restoration of Lake Ngaroto wetland, and Environment Waikato for their promotion to landowners of the value of wetland conservation. Awards were to have been presented by Hugh Logan, Director-General of Conservation but as he was unable to attend due to illness, Grant Baker, the Department’s Northern Regional General Manager, did the honours. The first Annual General Meeting of the Trust was then held and trustees elected. Many new members were signed up.

Media coverage on Prime Television and local papers (Waikato Times, Waitomo News, North Waikato Tatler).


A wetland display at the Whakapapa Visitor Centre highlighted the uniqueness of Tongariro National Park's wetlands, including their altitude, structure, rare species, and absence of weeds. Information was provided on where to see wetlands in Tongariro National Park, as well as guidelines for experiencing wetlands.

Bay of Plenty

Fish and Game New Zealand, DOC, Environment Bay of Plenty and the Wildfowlers Association hosted visits to Tumurau lagoon on the Rangitaiki Plains and Matata lagoon on Saturday 5 February. These are good examples of both a freshwater and saltwater wetland ecosystem. A range of speakers provided information about various aspects of the wetlands. Displays, posters and handout pamphlets on wetland creation and conservation were available at both sites. A wetland "package" including pamphlets on wetland restoration and planting was provided for all those participating.


Ninety children from St John’s Hill Primary School, along with their teachers and parent helpers, visited Wanganui’s Lake Westmere Wildlife Refuge. His Worship the Mayor of Wanganui, Chas Poynter welcomed the first group of thirty children to the lake and set the scene for a very enjoyable morning.

The children circulated around seven bases manned by representatives from DOC, Forest & Bird, NZ Ornithological Society, Wanganui District Council (who manage the reserve), and Wanganui/Manawatu Bird Rescue. At each base children discovered a special aspect of the wetland and were asked to answer a question from a questionnaire given to them at the start of the trail. A special wetlands banner was produced and Fish & Game provided wetland packs for the children. The event featured in the Wanganui Chronicle, River City Press and Wanganui Chronicle and interviews with some of the children who had completed the bases were played on Radio Star FM on 3 February.

Displays were placed in the foyer of the Wanganui DOC office, Greenworld plant nursery, and at Lake Westmere.

New Plymouth

Nearly 200 people took part in a Taranaki Regional Council organised tour of Umutekai wetland on 5 February. Landowners Barry & Alison Rumball have preserved this regionally important wetland, located on the outskirts of New Plymouth. The tour included the presentation of a wetlands conservation award to Taranaki Regional Council by DOC New Plymouth area manager, Murray Crombie.

The Regional Council also launched a booklet, Wetlands in Taranaki. This attractive publication will be used to encourage landowners, industry and community groups to preserve or enhance wetlands. During the week New Plymouth DOC staff provided a "Wetlands" display in the central business area of New Plymouth. A joint newspaper feature about wetlands by Taranaki Regional Council, DOC and Fish & Game featured in The Daily News.


A display was placed in ‘The Warehouse’.

Palmerston North

Horizons M.W, DOC, and Fish & Game set up a joint display in The Plaza Shopping Centre. A joint advertising feature by DOC and Horizons MW appeared in the Manawatu Evening Standard on 2 February.


Over 80 people took part in a wetlands open day and action plan launch at Boggy Pond, Lake Wairarapa on Saturday 12 February. Displays by DOC, Wellington Regional Council, Wellington Fish and Game and the local taxidermy museum and kayak hire highlighted the values of wetlands and issues and activities including pest control, water management, cultural harvest, hunting, fishing and kayaking.

Kaumatua Sonny Te Maire welcomed everyone before DOC area manager Derrick Field spoke to guests about the significance of the day. Guests were given a choice of guided walks led by Aalbert Rebergen, Garry Foster and Peter Moore from DOC, Andrew Bond from Fish and Game, Sonny Te Maire from the local hapu, and Colin Scadden, Ornithological Society. There was plenty of discussion about wetland management issues. The walkers were met with a feast of wild food on their return - everything from goose breast fillet to venison patties, swan, wild pork and pari sausages, pickled duck, smoked eel and flounder.


The Department of Conservation combined with Tasman District Council and Nelson/Marlborough Fish & Game Council to launch an environmental report commissioned by the three bodies, "An Overview of Freshwater Wetlands in the Tasman District, Nelson, New Zealand"

The event was held at Marahau, near Motueka on the site of a community wetland restoration project. Attendees included iwi, local residents, Forest & Bird, Ornithogical Society, Conservation Board, QE11 Trust, Tourism organisations, local concessionaires and the three organising bodies, DOC, Fish & Game and Tasman District Council . The event was supported by local media coverage including a radio interview on the importance of wetlands. Displays were erected in local offices of the Tasman District Council and at Nelson Airport.


Talks were given to local schools, and the Department of Conservation supported Fish & Game in an open day at Para Swamp, between Blenheim and Picton. This area is being restored by Fish & Game.

West Coast

A set of colouring in plates relating to wetlands were sent to primary schools. A display on Wetlands of International Importance with a focus on karst systems is being circulated along the West Coast, starting in Reefton.


The Department of Conservation supported Fish and Game’s Boggy Creek event at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere with a display on the Otukaikino wetland project - site of the Living Memorial which DOC is restoring in partnership with Lamb and Hayward, funeral directors. Interest was shown in the Otukaikino project, which is still not generally known by Christchurch residents.

Despite the grey, cool weather, some 150 people turned up for the Boggy Creek event. DOC’s Canterbury Community Relations Manager, Cheryl Colley stood in at short notice and delivered the speech on behalf of Director General Hugh Logan, who was unable to attend due to illness. Taumutu Runanga representatives gave a demonstration of flax weaving, while the Onuku Marae fed the crowd with much appreciated hot hangi cooked kai (food). Fish and Game had prepared an excellent day, and although the weather was cold, several people took the opportunity for an interpretive walk lead by the enthusiastic Trevor Partridge.


World Wetlands Day was marked by a television item on World Wetlands Day and the ecological importance of wetlands nationally. The Otago Daily Times featured an Otago Regional Council feature on wetlands, and there was good coverage in a local community paper.


A proposal to extend the Waituna Wetlands Scenic Reserve was presented to the Southland Regional Council on 2 February as the climax of World Wetlands Day celebrations in the region. A joint venture by the Department of Conservation and Southland Fish and Game Council, the proposal will extend the 3500ha already protected under the international RAMSAAR Convention by another 20,000ha of mostly Crown owned adjoining wetlands, peatlands and cushion bog. The day included a bus trip to the wetland for invited guests and a document handover ceremony at the Southland District Council office.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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