|Graham Booth on his wetland|
Restoring a native wetland in Otaki to its former glory is the aim of Graham Booth, a semi-retired builder from Wellington.
Graham says the previous owner had farmed cattle on the land and tried to drain the area, but it was a poor site for farming and had been labelled 'marginal pasture' by the Kapiti Coast District Council. Attempts by previous owners to modify the area had caused the soil to deteriorate.
"There was a drain running through it from about 1974. Then the owner put in a stopbank but the peat continued to shrink and the area kept flooding." says Graham.
Graham was interested in restoring the area to its original state both from an environmental perspective and as an interesting project for retirement. Having spent about a year planning, he first used heavy machinery to destroy the stopbanks and drains and create islands for birds. He then turned off the pump drainage system and allowed the area to fill up with water again.
Evidence of the project's success can be seen in the large numbers of birds that have returned to the area. Word has obviously got round the bird community, and Graham says he has counted 50 swans, several paradise ducks, pukeko and pied stilts.
He expects more birdlife to return, and says the presence of eels and koura (native crayfish) shows the water quality is good.