Kaikōura farmer’s admirable wetland restoration More than a decade of conservation work has resulted in a Kaikōura farmer working towards establishing one of the most significant restored wetlands in the Canterbury region.

Through collaboration between the Kaikōura community, Environment Canterbury and the Kaikōura Water Zone committee, Nagari wetland is becoming a template for wetland restoration on private land.

With a desire to create a space where residents and visitors to Kaikōura can access a place showcasing the diverse range of biodiversity in wetlands, a local landowner, Barb Wood-Mackle is transforming an area of unproductive, boggy land into an ecological haven, at the same time creating a space that contributes to improving water quality for the catchment.

The success story of Nagari wetland

Environment Canterbury Kaikōura Manager Kevin Heays says Nagari wetland is a “cracking good” example of how farmers are making huge impacts on local waterways, improving water quality and increasing biodiversity.

“Local wetlands in Kaikōura are such a success, they have been drawing interest from regional Environment Canterbury leaders,” he said.

Earlier this month, a group of 12 Environment Canterbury staff Hurunui-Waiau Water Zone Committee members made their way up to Kaikōura to see how landowners, with community collaboration, national funding and multi-agency involvement, could create spaces that enable biodiversity to flourish.

Wetland expert John Preece of the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee wetlands subcommittee speaking to the group about the wetland values stripped away during early colonisation.

Nagari is on a working farm that is leased for both dairy and beef. The early stages of the wetland restoration was simply fencing off an area of farmland and allowing the natural vegetation to flourish uninterrupted by stock.

It is now developing into one of the most significant natural wetlands in the district, covering around 7 hectares of land in two areas along Warrens Creek.

Environment Canterbury Project Delivery Officer Heath Melville said that with 900 sedges, 40 kahikatea and 950 tree, shrub and flax species planted, Nagari will be an “ecological haven” for plant, bird, animal and aquatic life.

“The existing rushland and stream is home to pukeko, ducks, kingfisher and heron,” he said.
Kaikōura Rūnanga representative Nukuroa Tirikatene-Nash, of the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee wetlands subcommittee, speaking to the group about the intrinsic values and mauri of freshwater as a life force.

“Some freshwater crayfish (kōura) and pied stilt have even been spotted there. It is the least modified wetland area in the Lyell Creek catchment and there are huge benefits for the water quality of the creek in protecting it."

“As water flows though the wetland, vegetation filters and stores nitrate and other nutrients, improving water quality downstream. By having wetlands like Nagari further upstream and other initiatives nearer to where the creek meets the sea, we are providing multiple opportunities for nature to carry out its normal functions while increasing freshwater quality throughout the catchment.”

Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee members chat with local farmers about their wetland restoration efforts at the Hapuku Scarp wetland area

Hapuku Scarp Wetland

Nagari and Kaikōura’s other major wetland project, Hapuku Scarp Wetland, show that when done well, wetlands are creating opportunities for recreation, enjoyment and education, while also promoting the importance of protecting our native species and wider taio (environment).

Natural forestry on the bank of Hapuku Scarp wetland means that during wet weather, the bank remains stable and the wetland collects excess runoff, protecting neighbouring farmland from flooding.

Community events key to success for wetland restoration

“Community events such as planting days for Love the Lyell are key to building the connection that our people feel to these spaces. It’s important to take the community along with us on the journey and let them see what a little bit of dirt and shoveling can do for our waterways,” Kevin Heays says.

Long-term goals for wetlands

Long-term goals for Kaikōura’s wetlands include:

  • Increasing accessibility for residents and visitors
  • Increasing the number of protected wetlands while increasing populations of native plants and wildlife
  • Continuing to lead the way in developing wetlands through collaboration and community involvement; all while creating cleaner waterways for future generations

Find out more about funding

Funding from Kaikōura Water Zone Committee’s Immediate Steps programme is crucial to restoring Kaikōura’s local wetlands and other biodiversity projects.

Find out more about how you can get funding and support for your restoration project.

Looking for community support? Information for community organisations seeking support from Environment Canterbury can be found on our Community support page.