World Wetlands Day 2001: New Zealand


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Hon Marian Hobbs
Minister for the Environment

Hon Sandra Lee
Minister of Conservation

1 February 2001

Media Statement



The work of three organisations to protect and restore our environment has been acknowledged today (Friday) by the Environment and Conservation Ministers as part of nationwide celebrations marking World Wetlands Day.

The Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs announced New Zealand Wetlands Awards for the Whakaki Lake Trustees, the Pauatahanui Reserve Management Committee of the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, and Norske-Skog Tasman. The awards will be presented on behalf of Conservation Minister Hon Sandra Lee, who is in the Chatham Islands this week.

"These awards are well justified because of the important contribution each group has made to our wetlands," the Ministers said in a joint statement today. "Our wetlands are cradles of biological diversity, providing the water and primary productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival."

The Ministers said that while wetlands were one of New Zealand's most productive environments they were also one of our most threatened natural ecosystems.

"The Whakaki Lake Trustees have been working to restore the natural hydrology and ecology of the Whakaki Lagoon and its coastal wetland system near Wairoa, on behalf of the Maori owners. Their project partners include the Department of Conservation, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, and Fish and Game Council.

"The Pauatahanui  Reserve Management Committee of Forest & Bird has had a longstanding commitment to restoring a large remnant of public saltmarsh and coastal wetlands in the Pauatahanui Wildlife Management Reserve. Their work has included educating the public on the importance of the wetlands.

"Norske-Skog Tasman has made a substantial corporate commitment to mitigate and offset historical industrial impacts on the aquatic systems of the lower Tarawera Catchment. They are currently restoring wetland systems associated with Lakes Rotoroa and Rotoitipaku, and had previously helped restore the Matata Lagoon Wildlife Refuge," the Ministers said.

For further information contact Trevor Henry, Press Secretary, 04 471 9131 or 025 477 994, or Sue McCabe, Department of Conservation Media Liaison on 04 471 3117 or 025 846 810

Representatives from the Pauatahanui Reserve Management Committee and Norske-Skog Tasman will receive their award from Environment Minister at 10.30am Friday 2 February at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington. The ceremony is part of the commemoration of World Wetlands Day. Also at the function, schoolchildren will plant  vegetation at a wetland in the sanctuary and the NZ Gamebird Habitat Trust Board Stamp will be launched.

For a list of other events occurring nationwide, visit or contact Graham Ford on 04 499 4767

More information about wetlands can be found on;

Background Information on Award Recipients

Pauatahanui Wildlife Management Reserve, Paremata

A community project managed by the Pauatahanui Reserve Management Committee (Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society) since 1985.   The award will be given to the Pauatahanui Reserve Management Committee of the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society for sustained commitment to a comprehensive restoration and interpretation programme for a large remnant of public saltmash and coastal wetlands. Principal achievements include:

  • day-to day management of the Reserve and adjoining Society land
  • restoration of approximately 70 ha of wetlands, creation of ponds and bird observation hides, creating walking tracks and an information kiosk. 
  • propagation and planting of native species, weed and animal pest control.
  • public advocacy and education about the significance of wetlands through talks, guided visits and production of interpretative materials. 

This project is a good example of best practice in sustaining community involvement and contribution to an ongoing and challenging wetland restoration project.

Kawerau wetland restoration

A Norske Skog Tasman wetland restoration project for the 25 ha of margins of the Tasman Mill wastewater treatment ponds, near Kawerau. Norske-Skog and Wildlands Consultants have been given the award for their substantial corporate commitment to mitigating and offsetting historical industrial impacts on the aquatic systems of the lower Tarawera Catchment. For their  comprehensive ecological restoration of wetland systems associated with Lakes Rotoroa and Rotoitipaku.   Recognition should also be given for the company's major sponsorship and initiation of the ecological and hydrological restoration of Matata Lagoon Wildlife Refuge at the mouth of the Tarawera River. Principal achievements include;

  • restoring a network of wetlands and their margins covering approximately 25 ha, linked to other natural areas, to provide high quality habitat for indigenous plants and fauna, particularly water birds, while being used for industrial waste treatment.
  • the major replanting has been complete and dabchicks returned to the ponds. 
  • the project recently won the Industry/Business/Council section of the Environment Bay of Plenty Awards. 

This and the Matata project are examples of industry best practice in initiating and sustaining a corporate commitment to mitigating and offsetting the effects of earlier activities.

Whakaki lagoon restoration (Wairoa).

A project initiated and maintained by the Whakaki Trustees. The award is being given to the trustees for the Maori owners for initiating and sustaining a collaborative campaign and project to restore the natural hydrology and ecology of the Whakaki Lagoon and its associated large coastal wetland system, in partnership with the Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Wairoa District Council and the Fish and Game Council. This large (570 ha) shallow coastal lagoon restoration project, within partly drained wetlands and degraded farmland, was begun in the 1980s and then accelerated after 1993 with new funding sources.  The aim is to manage, supervise, arrange, protect and improve the natural ecosystems of the Whakaki Lake for the benefit of the tangata whenua of the district. Principal achievements include;

  • the Rahui Channel has been reinstated, allowing water to discharge from the lagoon through the original channel rather than directly to the sea, reducing saltwater intrusion and improving control of the lake level. 
  • fencing has excluded stock allowing riparian and other plantings.  Management planning and monitoring are integral components of the project. 

This commitment, together with the way in which the Trustees have established partnerships with other public agencies is an example of best practice in the restoration of coastal wetlands.

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