West Coast wetlands protected by Nature Heritage Fund

  • Nicky Wagner

A significant wetland on the West Coast home to rare birds and plants will be preserved for the public thanks to the Nature Heritage Fund, Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner says.

“The Nature Heritage Fund has purchased 56 hectares of land in Okuru, South Westland to become part of the conservation estate. This land is a great example of open pakihi, a type of wetland characterised by low soil fertility,” Ms Wagner says.

“The pakihi provides a perfect home for the declining South Island fernbird and supports several types of native plants, including sun orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts.

“Both pakihi and the wetland and lowland forests which make up this land are under-represented in public ownership, so the acquisition is doubly welcome.

“The wetland will form a natural western boundary to the Okuru and Waiatoto conservation areas, which extend to Mt Aspiring National Park,” Ms Wagner says.

The land was bought from N A Wallis (Okuru) Limited. Co-Directors, John and Nick Dalgety, and shareholders within the extended family are delighted it will now be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

“The land at Okuru has been owned by us for three generations,” says John Dalgety.

“Now is the time for this well-positioned coastal property to be both protected and made available for Haast locals, as well as visitors to South Westland.”

The NHF is a contestable ministerial fund aimed at protecting the full range of New Zealand’s natural ecosystems. The Fund has an annual budget of $1.8 million, the Fund’s investment in the Okuru wetland area is just over $350,000.

Since 1990 the Fund has protected more than 340,000 ha of natural areas which would have otherwise been cleared, logged or further damaged by introduced browsing animals.