Posted By QEII National Trust | February 2, 2023

World Wetlands Day is held on 2 February every year. It marks the adoption of the International Convention on Wetlands in 1971 in Iran and gives us a chance to further appreciate our wonderful wetlands.

This year, the focus is on wetland revival and restoration. Many of our covenantors with wetlands play a crucial part in protecting wetland biodiversity in Aotearoa New Zealand through private land protection.

James and Kate McKay are a great example of landowners who are doing what they can to protect and enhance wetlands. They recently protected a 3 hectare wetland, adding to the 14 hectares of already covenanted areas on their property, near Alfredton in the Tararua region.

The McKay’s had a restoration vision for the wetland and by getting their family, friends, the community, and local schools involved with planting and weed control, they are on their way to restoring the wetland system and returning natural biodiversity to the area.

The wetland has patches of native vegetation dominated by Carex secta, Olearia virgata and rāupo within two boggy gullies joined by small tributary creeks. Located on river terraces formed by Te Hoe Stream, the wetland is an indigenous ecosystem type that is threatened in the Eastern Wairarapa ecological district with only 2% of the original vegetation cover remaining.

The McKay’s are working to restore the wetland ecosystem by controlling weeds through spot spraying, release spraying, and replanting the area with over 5,500 natives. Re-establishing representative species is a key focus of the planting to restore natural diversity to the area.

The McKays knew there would be a lot of work involved in the project and saw it as a good opportunity to kick-start their newly founded local water catchment group, Ihuraua/ Upper Tiraumea Catchment Group. The group is part of the wider Manawatū River Catchments Collective (MRCC), which aims to connect and support several smaller local catchments groups like Ihuraua.

At a planting day event in August 2020, starting at the wetland, an impressive 2,800 plants were planted in two hours. The planting day was a great community event, with students from Alfredton School and Tararua College, local covenantors, Horizons Regional Council staff and other members of the community getting together and mucking in for the day.

The inspiring work of these covenantors is being supported by the Manawatū River Accord, who aided the project with funding for weed control, enhancement planting and a stream health monitoring kit. Horizons Regional Council and QEII is supporting them with fencing costs, weed control efforts, community days and ongoing monitoring.