Paddocks turned to Wetlands in bid to save critically endangered matuku

By Contributor

Aerial image shows the progress of hundreds of plants which are part of the Waimea Delta Wetland Enhancement. Photo / Supplied

Max Frethey, Local Democracy Reporter

Work is progressing well on the Waimea Delta Wetland Enhancement project which could eventually provide a breeding ground for the critically endangered matuku.

The first stage of the project began in March with earthworks to create ponds alongside the existing water channels.

Terrestrial planting around the area occurred over winter, followed by further planting in spring with the eventual goal of transforming about seven hectares.

The plan is to create a varied wetland environment, according to project manager George Daly, with the saltwater inlet and freshwater streams and several ponds and islands creating diversity.

“We can create really diverse little spaces that fish are going to love and therefore will get the marsh birds in here that we want to,” he said.

By digging out ponds, Daly hopes to have water in the area more often than not and even though the project only started in March, it’s already beginning to work.

“We can see it already … it’s starting to retain water even at lower tides.”

There are less than 1000 matuku in New Zealand and to help make the wetland area safer for them, a number of traps have been set for pests, mainly weasels.

“We know that they’re already in the area,” Daly said. “But to have a breeding pair here, that would be fantastic.”

While Daly acknowledges that the area of this project is relatively small, it can’t be viewed in isolation and joins in with a network being fostered all around the Waimea Inlet.

Stage two will begin around March and will involve further widening channels and creating new swamps and marshes to establish more diverse wildlife habitats and enhance habitat connectivity.  

Funding for the project has been granted by the Ministry for the Environment and Tasman District Council through the Jobs for Nature – Mahi mō te Taiao scheme.

To keep an eye on the project as it progresses, you can spy the wetland area from the Great Taste Trail cycleway at the end of Lower Queen Street where it meets Cotterrell Rd.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air