Monday, 20 January 2020


World Wetlands Day to be celebrated on Saturday 2 February

Wetlands are hugely important ecosystems and essential for improving water quality. In the past, they were often seen as boggybits of land that could be put to better use. Nowadays, we recognise the importance of our wetlands, but unfortunately 90per cent of New Zealand’s wetlands have been destroyed.

We’re actually pretty lucky in the Thames-Coromandel District, with multiple wetland areas contributing to our biodiversity. The Firth of Thames and Kopuatai are two internationally recognised wetlands and we have many smaller local wetland areas, including at Rings Beach, Otama, Kuaotunu and Waikawau.
Wetlands act like giant filters. As waterfunnels down from the higher areas, it picks up sediment, debris and even excessive nutrients. The wetlands themselves arecapable of holding massive amounts of waterand releasing it slowly to prevent flooding.The water that is released from the wetlands is “cleaned” through a vast network of soil and vegetation.
Wetlands were an important source offood for early Māori, as well as providing flax for weaving, clothing, mats and kete. Mosses gathered from wetlands were used for bedding and Māori would also have used wetlands and waterways for access by waka.
Important native species live in wetlands. Many plants found in wetlands rely totally on the wet environments to survive. Without wetlands they would likely die out. The Corybas carsei (swamp helmet orchid) is now only found within the Whangamarino Wetland near Te Kauwhata. Wetland plants also provide shade for streams and waterways,slow the flow of water and supply food and shelter for other species.
Many bird species inhabit wetlands, including the rare Australasian bittern, pateke, fern bird, marsh crake and white heron. Native fish need wetlands, with species such as inanga (whitebait), short-finned eels and kōkopu living within wetland systems or using wetlands as areas to spawn. The decline in native fresh waterfish species is directly linked to a reduction innatural healthy wetlands.
World Wetlands Day on Saturday 2 February celebrates the anniversary of the establishment of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international environmental agreement recognising the importance of wetlands.
The convention was set up in 1971 and includes 169 countries, with more than 2,000 recognised sites. New Zealand is home to six of these significant wetland areas. In addition to the Firth of Thames and Kopuatai, the areas are the Whangamarino Wetland, the Manawatu Estuary, Farewell Spit and Awarua-Waituna.
We must protect our wetlands to ensure that our native species survive and our fresh water systems are healthy. Wetlands, waterways and streams need to be fenced to ensure stock cannot pollute them or erode precious soil. The planting of appropriate species around wetlands will help to stabilise soil and prevent nutrient run off. The Coromandel has multiple community groups working on wetland conservation.
Please email the Department of Conservation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information or if you would like to become involved.

Come and celebrate World Wetlands Day with the Department of Conservation and the Rings Beach Wetland Project, a local community group, in a guided tour around the scenic Rings Beach Wetland restoration site on Saturday 2 February from 10:00am to 12:00 noon. Meet at 191 Bluff Road, Rings Beach.


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Is the government's decision not to base a rescue helicopter in Whitianga over summer (or at all) a broken promise?

The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.