World Wetland Day 2024

  • 14/02/2024
  • Roslyn Simmonds

World Wetland Day 2024

Report by Andy Tannock, NZGBHT Chairperson. 

Andy Garrick (Trustee), Robert Sowman (Administrator) and I attended the World Wetland Day, public relations event and gamebird stamp launch at the Underwood Wetland near Dargaville on February 2.

Around 30 people from Fish & Game, DOC, Nature Heritage, contractors, Chris Jenkins the project referee, Mike Lee, who helped arrange finance for the initial land purchase, and David Underwood, who sold the property at a nominal price in order to see it protected and enhanced.

After a detailed overview of the wetland’s history, milestones in terms of its development, and challenges overcome, from Rudi Hootjes (project manager), we set off.  The tour was on foot for most and involved several kilometres of walking which was a good way to see the wetland up close.  Two areas were designated for viewing and one was set up with gazebos for shade, seating and where a packed lunch was provided.   There we received reports from Phil Durham Northland F&GC Chairman, Corina Jordan (NZF&GC Chief Executive) and myself. 

The Underwood restoration to date has been in 2 stages.  Stage 1 consists of a serries of 5 ponds constructed in the swampy valley leading down to the Mounganui River.  These, while quite basic, compliment the Stage 2 development and add habitat value to the nearby river.  We saw them as good nesting and brood rearing ponds.  Stage 2 is the jewel in this wetland’s crown, as the large bund constructed at the foot of the valley has created around 4ha of open, but shallow water.  Levels can (and are) able to be manipulated meaning dabbling water can be increased at appropriate times of the year etc.  Some planting has begun, and predator trapping is carried out. 

We came away thinking the project has been a good one with game birds, fish (eels), and even a bittern sighted, indicating it will provide excellent biodiversity values into the future. Obviously, Rudi as the project designer, and the 2 contactors involved knew what they were doing as the attention they applied to detail ensured the development work survived the Cyclone Gabriel weather event last year. As one of the NZGBHT’s 4 regional ‘showcase’ or major projects, we need to ensure we and Fish & Game keep using this wetland for promotional and inspirational uses as it is otherwise off the beaten track and will not be in the public eye.  Incidentally for the first time this season, hunting stands have been balloted.  At this stage this has been limited to 4x stands so 8 hunters, but more opportunity will be included later once potential is better understood. 

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