World Wetlands Day – $3.5 million boost in funding ramping up wetland restoration in the Wairarapa

Date:  02 February 2021

A $3.5 million boost of Jobs for Nature funding is scaling up restoration efforts at the internationally recognised Wairarapa Moana Wetlands.

“It’s about providing employment for the local community, it’s about regeneration of our moana wetlands and it’s also about restoring the mana to the local Māori, hapū, iwi community”, says Greater Wellington’s Project Lead Kereana Sims.
The once life-sustaining ecosystem rich with tuna (eels) and kākahi (freshwater mussel) is now heavily polluted and suffering from erosion, sedimentation and high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. 
Since 2008 the Wairarapa community, mana whenua and central and local government have been working together to restore the wetland taonga. 
The Ministry for the Environment funding boost announced in July last year will see 30 jobs created over the next five years to restore at least 30 hectares of wetland, through indigenous planting and pest control across 1000 hectares of wetlands and surrounding land.
“This World Wetlands Day recognises the role wetlands play in providing healthy water. Wetlands are like nature’s kidneys, filtering out and absorbing unhealthy nutrients and sediments leaving behind clean, life-supporting water,” says Ministry for the Environment’s Martin Workman.
“This project is helping to restore the mauri of Wairarapa Moana and protect Te Mana o Te Wai; the life supporting capacity of this wai māori. Ministry for the Environment are pleased we could support this mahi through the Jobs for Nature programme,” says Martin. 
Te Mana o Te Wai, the guiding principle of the recently released Essential Freshwater reforms, means protecting the life-supporting capacity of freshwater. It gives priority to the health of freshwater, then the needs of people and then commercial uses.
Department of Conservation Director-General Lou Sanson says the Jobs for Nature funding for restoration work at Wairarapa Moana underlines the ecological, cultural, and recreational importance and potential of this area. 
“Wairarapa Moana supports more than 50 native freshwater and birds species, in addition to the areas international significance for migratory bird species as recognised by the recent Ramsar protection status. Native taonga include brown mudfish, tadpole shrimp, Tuna, matuku/Australasian bittern and kuaka/bar-tailed godwit to name a few. 
“Work under the Jobs for Nature funding will help improve the wetland habitat, increasing the capacity of the wetland to buffer against climate change and all catchment-wide impacts on the health and future of the moana.”
Greater Wellington Wairarapa Committee Chair, Councillor Adrienne Staples says, “we’re contributing approximately $1 million, and Department of Conservation are adding $450 thousand on top of the Ministry of the Environment’s $3.5 million investment over the next five years.
“It’s expected that we’ll see significant support going into indigenous plants and animal protection, improved visitor facilities, education and community group support – all of which will create job opportunities in the area”, said Adrienne.
The $1.245 billion Jobs for Nature programme is a Government initiative, creating nature-based jobs to benefit the environment and support the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. The $3.5 million contribution towards the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Project comes from Ministry for the Environment’s Jobs for Nature funding allocation.
The Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Project is a collaboration between Greater Wellington Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, South Wairarapa District Council, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, and Rangitāne o Wairarapa.
World Wetlands Day is held on February 2nd annually to raise awareness about wetlands and celebrate the 1971 adoption of the International Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian City of Ramsar. The Wairarapa Moana Wetland was designated as a Wetland of International Importance in August 2020 and is one of only seven wetlands in New Zealand to be recognised under The Ramsar Convention.
Video available for download here and unedited video footage available upon request.

Media contacts

Ministry for the Environment 
Mobile 027 231 6930
Greater Wellington Regional Council
Mobile 021 914 266
Department of Conservation
Elizabeth King
027 204 7029

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