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New Wetland Reserve at Maungarakau

New Wetland Reserve at Maungarakau

Conservation Minister Chris Carter today opened a new wetland reserve at Maungarakau on the Whanganui Inlet, north west of Nelson.

With funding provided by the Nature Heritage Fund, the NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust has purchased 127 hectares of the largest remaining freshwater wetland in Nelson/Marlborough.

Combined with a previous purchase of 20 hectares funded by the Rosemary Middleton Trust, a total 147 hectares of this important wetland will now be managed by the NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust.

“This is an outstanding wetland of national importance. It is a pivotal ecological entity in a region noted for dramatic and pristine landscapes,” said Mr Carter.

The land adjoins the Kahurangi National Park to the south and scenic reserves to the north and west, and links the lowland and coastal forest of the national park to the tidal mud flats of the Whanganui Inlet.

Together with the neighbouring Whanganui Inlet Marine Reserve the wetland forms a valuable extension to the wading grounds of Farewell Spit, which is a site of international importance for migratory birds.

“The site supports diverse and extensive vegetation communities including flax and raupo flats, large areas of open water and regenerating kahikatea-pukatea forest and its associated species.”

Of particular interest are the distinct ecological variations reflecting the local geology. Lime, leaching from the bluffs in the nearby scenic reserves, has resulted in more fertile areas of raupo as opposed to the lower fertility Baumea rushlands found in neighbouring reserve land.

These fertile areas contain rare vegetation including the threatened aquatic Myriophyllum robustum and the swamp orchid Spiranthes sinensis (ladies tresses). In addition, this is the only place in which brown mudfish are known to be found in Nelson Marlborough.

“The Maungarakau mudfish is genetically distinct from other populations in the country. This makes it all the more vital its habitat is protected,” said Mr Carter.

Regenerating forest buffers protect the land from the long term effects of sediment and nutrient run-off, resulting in the presence of a pristine freshwater fishery.

Fauna present include the Australasian bittern, fern bird and marsh crake plus the common bully, koura, long finned eel, inanga, banded kokopu, giant kokopu and shortjawed kokopu.

“This wetland reserve will be particularly valuable as a place where people can learn about wetland ecosystems and the importance they have in our natural world.”

The land will be owned and managed by the NZ Forests Restoration Trust, to be protected in perpetuity by way of covenant as a Queen Elizabeth II Trust Open Space.

“It is the Nature Heritage Fund’s policy to foster a partnership approach with local and regional councils, conservation organisations and community groups to achieve better conservation outcomes and more effective use of funding resources,” said Mr Carter.

“This project is a good example of that process taking place.”

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