Ducks Unlimited NZ

Displaying items by tag: Wildlife

Monday, 13 November 2017 09:42

Pukaha Mount Bruce welcomes new General Manager

Pukaha has a new general manager, Emily Court. She started in her role immediately after Labour weekend.

Ms Court moved to the Wairarapa from Christchurch two years ago after spending the previous five years working in a business recovery role after the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. She led a recovery programme for the international education sector which included securing a $5million funding package during her tenure.

Emily has also had previous roles in banking, retail, economic development and international education. Her most recent role has been with the Wairarapa branch of Public Trust as a Professional Trustee and manager. 

Ms Court has a business degree from Victoria University, an MBA and also holds a formal project management qualification.

This extensive business background will be a real asset to Pukaha, as they are in the process of planning several new and interesting developments.

Emily is excited about the new role and outside of it, will continue to spend time with her two children in their new Wairarapa home. In their spare time the family enjoys renovating their old bungalow in Carterton, riding their horses and exploring the North Island.

Welcome to the Pukaha team Emily

4/12General Manager: Emily Court is now into her new GM position

General Manager: Emily Court is now into her new GM position

Published in Issue 173
Monday, 13 November 2017 09:21

Spring Has Sprung

The 2017/18 breeding season has begun and The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust (ICWT) once again reached its busy rearing phase.

Early October saw the collection of the first clutch of critically endangered New Zealand shore plover eggs for artificial incubation. Critically endangered black stilt/kaki pairs had also begun laying eggs.

ICWT is happy to report that three clutches have been incubated by critically endangered orange-fronted parakeet breeding pairs, as well as eight healthy chicks presently being raised. (see page 9).

The first South Island blue duck/whio ducklings hatched, while North Island ducklings hatched soon after. Meanwhile five brown teal/pateke pairs have hatched ducklings and more will be on the way.

ICWT’s reptiles are becoming more active with the warming weather, meaning tuatara,  Otago skinks and grand skinks will be breeding as well.

As always, ICWT’s ambitious native planting  programme across the Isaac Conservation Park and the Otukaikino River restoration site continues; while salvaged historic buildings continue to be restored to their former glory in the Heritage Village.

For more information see:
Sabrina Luecht,
Wildlife Project Administrator,

Published in Issue 173
Thursday, 09 November 2017 22:55

A unique New Zealand wetland enhancement project

In 2008 Taumata Lagoon, south east of Carterton in the Wairarapa Region of New Zealand, was classified as “A WETLAND OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE”.

The lagoon is also recognised as the country’s best example of an “Oxbow Lagoon” – with both ends of the lagoon being only 300-metres apart.

In addition, the inner area of the lagoon contains between 200 and 250 ancient Totara and Kahikatea. (Possibly the most significant area of  ancient forest on the floor of the Wairarapa valley).

The 34-hectare lagoon environment is also the home of over 40 different  species of birds – including good numbers of the rare and endangered endemic NZ Dabchick, large numbers of NZ Shoveler, Grey Teal and Black Swan (there are now close to no mallards!), plus bush birds, including: Falcon, Kereru, Tui, Bellbird and huge numbers of Fantail.

In addition 110 different species of endemic plants have been identified in the area.

Taumata Lagoon

A wetland of national importance and a classic oxbox lagoon, with close to half of the lagoon and its environs being protected by a QEII National Trust Open Space Covenant.

The lagoon is 9 kilometres south east of Carterton – a rural town in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand.

Sylvia and Neil Hayes purchased part of Taumata Lagoon in 1990 and since then considerable enhancement of the environment has taken place, and, with lots of dedicated assistance, a weir to regulate water levels was constructed, well over 5000 willows have been removed, over 8000 Totara, Kahikatea and swamp flax have been planted and several thousand predators have been eliminated; with management of the predator control programme being carried out by the Greater Wellington Regional Council since 2000. The Timms trap was originally  designed as a Possum trap, but has proven to be highly successful in the elimination of – feral cats, ferrets, stoats and hedgehogs. The largest ferret ever eliminated in New Zealand was in a Timms trap – at Tamata Lagoon.

Historically the most desirable lagoon water levels have relied heavily on flood water from the adjacent Waiohine River, but in 2014 a Waiohine River stop bank burst its banks – the result being that flood water pours through  the gap and heads straight to the Ruamahanga River – instead of the lagoon!

The Waiohine and the Ruamahanga rivers converge three kilometres to the south of Taumata Lagoon and each river floods 3 to 4 times each year.

The Regional Council informed the four owners of Taumata Lagoon that they had no funds available to rebuild the stopbank – and the owner of the stopbank property said he didn’t want the stopbank rebuilt! 

At my instigation, on September 14, 2016, a meeting was held on site to discuss how best the problem could be resolved. Involved were GWRC staff, the four lagoon owners, the Wairarapa QEII National Trust representative and the landowner of the stopbank area. With full support of all involved the outcome of the meeting was to reverse the flow of water through the adjacent neighbours flood drainage channel (which normally puts flood water back into the Waiohine River), construct a culvert under the road, construct a channel on the Hayes property and join it up with the culvert.

In 1942, in the same area, there were large numbers of endemic Totara (Podocarpus totara) and the endemic Kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides), but all but seven of the Totara were milled during the 1950s.

This aerial photo was taken in 1942.

The area just above the gravel road at the bottom of the photo  is where Suez #2 was created and where our final planting programme was completed in August 2017.

Many of the Totara and Kahikatea in the main part of the natural forest were also milled at the same time, but approximately 100 Totara and 250 Kahikatea survived and many of these have a QEII National Trust Open Space Covenant over them, which protects them and all plantings since 1990 in perpetuity. Most of the Totara and Kahikatea are ancient – with massive trucks!

Close to 50 different species of birds have been identified in the lagoon area and over 100 endemic trees and plants have
been identified.

The Hayes block of land where the “Suez #2” was created was leased to a neighbour for 10 years, but as soon as the lease expired Neil and Sylvia Hayes commenced another major native planting programme – initially with native swamp flax (for shelter belts) and then Totara.

Between 1990 and 2017 Neil and Sylvia have proven the ancient Greek proverb to be wrong: “THE WORLD GROWS BETTER WHEN OLD PEOPLE PLANT TREES KNOWING THAT THEY WILL NEVER SIT IN THEIR SHADE.”

All finished five days later – with grass seed spread throughout the flat ground. The flow of water from the neighbours drain was reversed – and instead of the water flowing back into the Waiohine River it now flows into Taumata Lagoon.

NZ Swamp Flax grows rapidly and provides an excellent wind break for other endemic plants and trees – and for the endemic Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) and the native Fantail (Rhipidura). The NZ Native flax provides an array of insects and nectar.

The first flow through the canal and into the lagoon was in April 2017.


A superb outcome to a complex wetland management problem.

Sincere thanks to the GWRCs Masterton Branch; the GWRC Head Office, all five landowners involved, particularly the adjacent neighbours – the Herrick Family – for their essential support with the use of their drain and the QEII National Trust for their support.

If further information is required please contact Neil Hayes on (06) 3796692 or by Email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – or at  PO Box 188, CARTERTON.

Neil Hayes

QSM CEnv DU (NZ) Foundation Member & DU (NZ)
Life Member.

Published in Issue 173
Tuesday, 31 October 2017 14:07

Tracker dog helps find and protect birds

Emma Williams and I are helping the South Wairarapa Schools - Martinborough, Pirinoa and Kahutara - to achieve some of their environmental studies assignments and general objectives.

Emma has visited Kahutara School once already and her talk was very successful, she had her dog Kimi with her and the children loved that.

Then Emma went up to Hawke’s Bay and further north where she worked with older young people. Emma has developed a package for schools on wetlands and wetland birds with bitterns in particular, and where they are in the habitat.

Emma’s lovely black labrador Kimi, helps with her work and accompanies her on visits to schools.

We will start another series of school visits in the South Wairarapa during August and plan to visit Wairio wetlands at some stage and track bitterns that have radio transmitters attached to them.

The overall plan is to introduce pupils to wetland conservation and so attract some new young members for Ducks Unlimited!

Gill Lundie

Published in Issue 172
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 00:29

Why Wetlands are Important

Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people & for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting & improving water quality, providing fish & wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.
These valuable functions are the result of the unique natural characteristics of wetlands. To access more information about wetlands, please visit the Wetland Factsheet Series. At
Wetlands and Nature.
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem. Climate, landscape shape (topology), geology and the movement and abundance of water help to determine the plants and animals that inhabit each wetland. The complex, dynamic relationships among the organisms inhabiting the wetland environment are called food webs. This is why wetlands in Texas, North Carolina and Alaska differ from one another.
Wetlands can be thought of as “biological supermarkets.” They provide great volumes of food that attract many animal species. These animals use wetlands for part of or all of their life-cycle. Dead plant leaves and stems break down in the water to form small particles of organic material called “detritus.” This enriched material feeds many small aquatic insects, shellfish and small fish that are food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals.
The functions of a wetland and the values of these functions to humans depend on a complex set of relationships between the wetland and the other ecosystems in the watershed. A watershed is a geographic area in which water, sediments and dissolved materials drain from higher elevations to a common low-lying outlet or basin a point on a larger stream, lake, underlying aquifer or estuary.
Wetlands play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. The combination of shallow water, high levels of nutrients and primary productivity is ideal for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web and feed many species of fish, amphibians, shellfish and insects. Many species of birds and mammals rely on wetlands for food, water and shelter, especially during migration and breeding. Wetlands’ microbes, plants and wildlife are part of global cycles for water, nitrogen and sulfur. Scientists now know that atmospheric maintenance may be an additional wetlands function. Wetlands store carbon within their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Thus wetlands help to moderate global climate conditions.
Wetlands and People
Far from being useless, disease-ridden places, wetlands provide values that no other ecosystem can. These include natural water quality improvement, flood protection, shoreline erosion control, opportunities for recreation and aesthetic appreciation and natural products for our use at no cost. Protecting wetlands can protect our safety and welfare.
Environmental benefits of water quality
Wetlands improve water quality. As water moves into a wetland, the flow rate decreases, allowing particles to settle out. The many plant surfaces act as filters, absorbing solids and adding oxygen to the water. Growing plants remove nutrients and play a cleansing role that protects the downstream environments.
Flood control
Wetlands can also reduce the impacts of flooding, as they can absorb heavy rain and release water gradually. Downstream water flows and ground water levels are also maintained during periods of low rainfall. Wetlands help stabilise shorelines and riverbanks.
Wildlife habitat
Many wetland plants have specific environmental needs and are extremely vulnerable to change. Some of our endangered plant species depend totally on wetlands. Wetlands support great concentrations of bird life - far more species than a similar forest area. The survival of threatened species such as the Australasian bittern, brown teal, fernbird, marsh crake and white heron relies on remnant wetlands.
Native fish need wetlands too. Eight of New Zealand’s 27 species including inanga, short-finned eels, kokopu and bullies are found in wetlands, while the whitebait fishery depends on the spawning habitat offered by freshwater wetlands. The decline in native fish populations is directly related to massive reductions in freshwater habitat.
Published in Issue 170