Ducks Unlimited NZ

Displaying items by tag: Wairio

Tuesday, 27 February 2018 20:13

Wairio Wetland planting continues

The Wairio Wetland Restoration has taken another step forward with the completion of the 1.7 km Bund Wall linking Stage 1 and Stage 4. If it is as successful as the Bund in Stage 4 we will have another 15 to 20 hectares of shallow open water with low islands scattered throughout.

This type of habitat is an ideal breeding and feeding area for a wide variety waterfowl such as swan, geese, bittern, royal spoonbill and of course ducks.

The Bund has been fenced to keep stock out as well as protect planting.

A planting day, held on April 21 was attended by about 40 people including students from a local school and Taratahi Agricultural College, members of the South Wairarapa Rotary and a variety of people from DU, Greater Wellington Council and the local district.

We received $2500 worth of plants from the Honda Fund, as well as three people from Southey Honda in Masterton to help with the planting.

Start time was 10am and 2000 plants were in the ground by 12 noon, just in time for lunch provided by Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Special thanks go to The Game Bird Habitat Trust, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Nikau Foundation, Pharazyn Trust and South Wairarapa Rotary Club for their generous sponsorship.

It was an excellent day my thanks to all involved.

We now await rain to see just how successful we have been.

Ross Cottle
Published in Issue 164
Friday, 23 February 2018 19:55

Wairio scores again

Thanks to the Nikau Foundation, Wairio  wetland has again been granted a generous  amount toward development for the wetland.  The Richard and Doreen Evans Charitable  Trust provided $4000 in the 2015 Nikau  Foundation funding round. 

Conditions placed on the grant: 

  • It must be used for the purpose applied for. 
  • The Trust must receive a feedback form from within a year of the grant being made. 
  • The Trust requires an update of progress towards completion of the project. Also  forward two or three photos and an update  that can be used on their website / annual  report / newsletters. Before and after photos  are especially welcome with captions. Talent  release permissions are DUNZs responsibility. 
  • Please acknowledge Nikau Foundation contribution to DUNZ in any publications or  any other means of release – The Foundation  would like to become better known throughout  the Wellington region. 
  • Our logo is available to use in your  publications. 
  • Please keep informed through our website and  “Like” us on facebook

Should any of you wish to know more go to  the Foundation’s web site,

New GM 

The Nikau Foundation has appointed a new General Manager who brings a wealth of  experience from the community and voluntary sector. Louise Parkin has had 25 years working  with charitable and philanthropic organisations  both in New Zealand and internationally. 

Ms Parkin had been at Nikau Foundation as  their Philanthropy Advisor for six months  before taking up the role of General Manager  in January this year. 

In her spare time, she teaches the Japanese martial art of aikido to adults and children. Her  personal philanthropy is for the benefit of the   environment and international aid. 

The Nikau Foundation is part of a world-wide   network of community foundations set up  to benefit a specific geographic area, in this  case the Wellington region. The Foundation manages 22 endowment funds that benefit the  arts, education, social and youth projects, the  environment and beyond. It does this through  the generosity of local donors. The funds it  manages grew 100 percent in the last year.

Published in Issue 166
Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:28

Wairio restoration planning and farewell

The presentation of DUNZ’s certificate “in recognition and appreciation of support to NZ’s waterfowl and wetland habitat” to Ian Gunn from Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) – Manager of GWRC’s Wairarapa Moana Project and a great supporter  of the Wairio Wetland Restoration Project.

Ian was critical in securing a “step change” in funding for the project.  The presentation was made at the end of the meeting along with the small gift of a bottle of wine. DUNZ members may recall Ian joining us at our 2014 AGM in Martinborough.

The recent meeting was held at Fish & Game’s Kilmore Lodge, adjacent to the Wetland where the group planning the 2016 work programme was underway.

Funding currently tots up to around $30,000. Of this, about $20,000 is already funded by contributions from our supporters.

Published in Issue 167
Friday, 16 February 2018 20:23

Wairio wetland plant day – another success

June 21 work started at 9am for the organisers, supported by some strong lads from Taratahi Agricultural Training College and farm workers from a local sheep and beef station Palliser Ridge. Those strong farming trainees dug holes in pre-sprayed spots in rough, fescue infested terrain.   

Just after 10am we also had about 20 school children from Martinborough and Kahutara primary schools arrive to “assist” in planting flaxes in the holes prepared by the aforementioned lads and workers.  In all, around 65 folk helped with the planting and by 12 noon, 750 plants (about half of them kahikatea) were in the ground at the noreastern corner of the Wetland.

Greater Wellington Regional Council provided educational support and the school children, in addition to planting, were treated to a field class identifying plants common to the Wetland.  That and the hot sausages for lunch (again provided by GWRC) made a great day for the children who said they would be back next year to see how “their” plants were growing.

Jim Law.

Published in Issue 168
Tagged under
Friday, 16 February 2018 20:16

There is a long, long trail a winding…

Published in Issue 168
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Wednesday, 07 February 2018 14:32

BirdsNZ members brave the weather

The weather was not wonderful, but Robin and Heather List are seasoned birders and the pair set off to Wario to check on birds and do a count.

Robin said “The expedition consisted of Heather and me. We have the gear and do wetlands in squalls right cheerfully, so there was no grumbling in the ranks, though the waterproof notebook was abandoned in favour of the little recorder, which worked well under wet, windy conditions. The sun broke through at times and the whole place was looking grand as wetlands in winter can.

“There wasn’t a feather of a Dabchick nor yet a Bittern to be seen, so we’ll go looking in other haunts. It is possible they haven’t read the books and aren’t breeding yet, but it has been a mild winter.

“What we did see or hear in the space of 2 hours 10 minutes, not counting the walk along the road back to the car was, here in random order.”

Black swan 135,

Mallard X Grey 26, (possibly a couple of Shovellers among the tussocks at the sheds pond, but I think they prefer Boggy  Pond)

  • Teal 25,
  • Yellowhammer15,
  • Harrier 4,
  • Blackbird 4,
  • Welcome Swallow 6,
  • Pukeko 6,
  • Magpie 4,
  • Kingfisher 3,
  • Silver-eye 37,
  • Goldfinch 15,
  • Black Shag 1,
  • Skylark 2,
  • Spurwing Plover 5,
  • Grey Warbler 1

All up16 species were seen by this intrepid pair, who also had an enjoyable lunch and excellent company in beautiful surroundings.

“Who could ask for more?” said Robin.

Published in Issue 169
Thursday, 28 December 2017 21:44

Wetland Impresses

The Wairio Wetlands were on the list for the 200 members of the New Zealand Farm  Forestry Association being hosted by the  Wairarapa branch for their 55th annual conference.

Our own DU member and director, John Dermer is  currently their national president. Wairarapa Farm Forestry president Stu Orme, and secretary Shane Atkinson, were thoughtful enough to  write to Jim Law and thank him for hosting their field trip to Wairio:

“We would like to thank you for the effort you put in to host our field trip to the Wairio wetlands. Your restoration project directly addresses all three themes of our conference and is an  outstanding example of a local initiative on a grand scale. Lake Wairarapa dominates the  whole of the lower valley and the re-creation of wetlands along the degraded eastern  boundary is a task with very long-term benefits. All our visitors enjoyed their trip. Thank you again.” 

John Dermer said that all 200 of the NZFF conference attendees visited Wairio. 

“We visited Castle Point Station in the north and down to the southern end to Prinoa Station and Waiorongomai on our last day with a look at Wairio and a talk from Jim Law.”

John said that once again he was struck by the sheer size of the Wairio Wetland although it was living up to its name, 'dry water' at the time. “Jim told us about the weed issues, mainly tall fescue, which makes getting trees established more difficult and the answers we are trying to find. One thing I noticed was how well plants are managing on the piles of soil excavated,  so my main question is Why not do more? “There must be a shallow water table underneath so why aren’t we digging deeper? “What is the point of digging holes so shallow they don’t hold water?” John said there is no way he would site his maimai on this bit of dry wetland. He said  he is sure the Farm Foresters were impressed, and they certainly asked lots of questions.

John Dermer

Published in Uncategorised
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Thursday, 28 December 2017 21:32

Nikau Foundation grant for Wairio Wetland

A cheque for $6500 from the Nikau Foundation was handed over to Ducks Unlimited (DUNZ) President Ross Cottle and Patron Jim Campbell by Gus van de Roer of the Nikau Foundation to go towards the restoration of the Wairio Wetland. 

Nikau Foundation Chairman Kevin O’Connor said he was delighted the Foundation was able to support Ducks Unlimited with its restoration work at the Wairio Wetland on the eastern shore of Lake Wairarapa.

While most grants had previously gone to Wellington based organisations he added that the Wairarapa is part of the wider community supported by the Foundation.

Ross Cottle said the grant would go towards site preparation and tree planting at the joint venture project with DOC. 

“We are starting to see the results of four years of effort and this injection of funds will help maintain the momentum of the project,” said Ross.

Tree planting is planned for May/June and volunteers are welcome. In past years children from Pirinoa Primary School, students from the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, Rotarians and DU and F&B members have assisted with the planting.

Nikau Foundation is the community foundation for the Wellington region, part of a worldwide family that provides a simple, effective and long-lasting way for people to leave a gift for causes close to their heart and close to home. Because the capital is invested and only the income is given out, the gift
keeps on giving forever.

The grant for the Wairio Wetland restoration project has been arranged by Nikau on behalf of the Richard and Doreen Evans Trust. 

Published in Issue 155
Thursday, 28 December 2017 21:24

Wetland vegetation focus of examination

The Wario Wetland has come in for some close scrutiny by Victoria University Student Bridget Johnson who is this year studying towards an MSc in Ecological Restoration. The overall title of her thesis is  “Ecological restoration of the Wairio Wetlands, Lake Wairarapa: vegetation dynamics and succession”. 

A Summer Scholarship meant she was able to do 10 weeks of research in her chosen field at Wario  with the title for that part of her research being “Temporal & Spatial Patterns of Wetland Vegetation during the Summer Desiccation Period at Wairio Wetlands, Wairarapa”. In addition to the summer  scholarship, Bridget has started preparing a second site at Wairio for a large scale experimental  project where around 2400 trees have been planted.

The summer study programme provided an introduction to the Wairio Wetland for Bridget where she  continues the research for her thesis on factors contributing to wetland restoration. Flight, with help from Jim Law, has been able to follow Bridget’s research so far.

A poster she produced she said was just a snap shot of some of that research. “Due to the limiting  size of the poster, I only talked about rare species vulnerability.” All the summer scholars got to  show their posters at a poster evening. Her poster included the following information plus a number  of illustrations.


Small in size, New Zealand’s native wetlands plant species are repeatedly outcompeted by more  aggressive weeds. The surrounding vegetation invades when wetland plants are most vulnerable,  during the desiccation (dry) period. A number of threatened low-lying plants (Pratia and Glosso) inhabit the Wairio Wetlands. To conserve these native plants a greater understanding is required of their optimal conditions and their spatial and temporal dynamics. “My aim was to investigate the temporal scale of the native species, and which abiotic factors affect their spatial distribution.”


Vegetation composition was sampled in 20 quadrants over a 10 week summer period. The quadrants were set five metres apart along two 50 metre perpendicular transects. The first transect followed a moisture gradient, whilst the other ran parallel. Additional abiotic variables were measured, such  as soil moisture, soil pH, percentage open ground, sunshine hours and rainfall. Water Plantain was  chosen as a comparative species as it is a common invader and an indicator of high soil moisture.


The rare species are restricted to a small band of high moisture sites. A smaller number of invasive species can grow in these moist soils, so there are fewer competitors for the natives. In drier soils, the invasive species can spread easily, giving the vulnerable natives little chance of survival. This means the natives have truly specialised ecological requirements, as their time frame of existence  and habitat preference is small. This is a contributing factor to what makes them vulnerable. Further research can be expanded from this study, for example: Should water plantain (and other invasive high moisture soil species) be managed to decrease the competition on the native species?  Illustrations on the poster included Glasso, Pratia and Water plantain. Glosso and Pratia grow in soil with high moisture content and Water plantain grows more abundantly in high moisture soil but is adaptable to a greater variance of soil moisture. Bridget said the native species emerge later in the summer season, whereas water plantain is a  consistent species. When the natives start emerging they have a higher percentage cover than the invasive water plantain.

“I would like to thank Dr Stephen Hartley, Tony Silbery (Department of Conservation Wairarapa), Jim Law (Ducks Unlimited) and Don Bell (Greater Wellington Regional Council) for their technical  support,” said Bridget.

References: New Zealand Plant Conservation. 2010. 

Published in Uncategorised
Thursday, 28 December 2017 21:12

Enthusiasm and hard work for restoration

During the last weeks of June, a band of enthusiastic Wairio Wetland members and other helpers were involved in more planting at the wetland.

The Wairio Wetland Restoration Committee met back in May and agreed the last two weeks of June would be planting time and Don Bell (GWRC) would be requested to check on Warren Field's (DOC schools Co-ordinator), availability was well as the GWRC BBQ team. Attendees were expected to be two local primary schools (Pirinoa & Kahutara), plus South Featherston and Martinborough, students from Taratahi Agricultural Training College, Rotarians, DU members & others (eg F & B members).

Jim submitted a claim for an agreed payment by Rotary for the costs of the signage at stage 1 ($450). Additionally he made a further application to rotary for the cost of weed mats ($2200). both were approved by Rotary.

Bridget Johnson, the Masters student from the School of Biological Science at Victoria University was onsite supervising the digger scraping of planting test plots.

The purchasing of trees and other materials has progressed with assistance from Don bell, Trevor Thompson (EQII) and Tony Silbery (DOC). Specialist and consistent tree planting skills are required to ensure the integrity of the research programme.

The budget for this years programme agreed at the previous meeting and additional costing data that became available as agreed is as follows:

  • Earthmoving (scraping planting plots at stage 3 and lagoon site at stage 2) $2500 - Fencing (repairs to stage 1) $500
  • Spot Spraying (stage 3 prior to planting) $2,000
  • Weed mats (stage 3) $2,500
  • Plants (stage 3) $5,000
  • Noxious weed spraying (stage 3 prior to planting and maintenance at stage 1 and 2) $1,000
  • Release spraying (stages 1, 2, and 3 in late spring 2011 and late summer 2012) $2,500

In Previous meetings it was agreed that a budget of $2500 should be ear-marked, subject to further fund-raising and commitment by DU for resources for additional plantings in two small fenced off areas north of stage 3. An audit of their suitability for additional planting by Don, Trevor and Tony would also be required and it was hoped this could be scheduled over the next few months.

Think Big Discussion

Based on feedback from recent visitors to the wetland (Farm Forestry and DU groups), as well as growing confidence within the Committee that significant progress is being made, the possibility ofa major planting to complete stages 1, 2 and 3 in the next few years was discussed.

There was agreement in principle to this approach and as a first step an estimate should be madeof the planting required in eash stage. It is also agreed that at the same time estimates be made of what areas not suitable for planting could be bulldozed to create significant lagoons. Financial costings would be then prepared as well as estimated manpower requirements to complete the work.

Published in Uncategorised
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