Our Wairarapa wetland treasure seeks international, ramsar status

  • Published Date 05 Jun 2020

"Recognition of the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands under the Ramsar Convention would be a real achievement, and not just for the Moana. It will raise the profile of the value of wetlands and hopefully support the process of identifying and protecting them throughout the region."

"Over the years we've learned a lot from Wairarapa Moana. It has also brought to the forefront the extensive partnership and hard work from landowners, iwi, local hapū, local authorities and the community­ to protect this taonga (sacred) treasure and to restore it back to health."

That's the message from Greater Wellington Wairarapa Committee Chair Councillor Adrienne Staples, in welcoming the decision by the Government to recommend Wairarapa Moana Wetlands for recognition under the Ramsar Convention.

Cr Staples says we need to take the opportunity to celebrate the environmental and cultural benefits that wetlands can deliver, and to acknowledge the significant work that goes into protecting them.

Currently, various initiatives are underway to address the environmental changes that have occurred in the last 150 years as a result of human settlement and activity around the Moana.

Since 2008, the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Project has been working towards the vision Whakaora te repo, ka ora te taonga wai (Restoring our wetland treasure). This project is as ongoing collaboration between Greater Wellington Regional Council, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, local hapū, Rangitāne o Wairarapa, Department of Conservation, South Wairarapa District Council and the support of local landowners.

Alongside this partnership project, Greater Wellington also works with partners on water quality challenges that span environmental, social, cultural and economic factors.

A few of these initiatives include mitigating impacts from climate change and flood risks, improving human health through connection with nature, enhancement of indigenous biodiversity and upholding cultural values.

Ngāti Kahungunu representative, Ra Smith says, "Wairarapa Moana is an ancestor of local Māori. The area has been and continues to be a highly valued spiritual site for Wairarapa iwi and hapū. Wetlands are important sites for all people, as they play a significant role in our future."

Despite the environmental changes to Wairarapa Moana, visitors from across New Zealand and the globe seek out this wetland to enjoy recreational activities, learn about the unique ecology and delve into its rich history.

The application has been sent to the Ramsar Secretariat in Geneva and an outcome is expected later in the year.

Updated February 24, 2022 at 11:44 AM

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