World Wetlands Day celebrated

  • Maggie Barry
  • Nicky Wagner

World Wetlands Day is a chance for New Zealanders to find out more about some of the country’s most important natural treasures, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner say.

To mark the day the Department of Conservation has released a new online resource, Our Estuaries, to help people explore and look after the wetland environment.

“New Zealand has more than 300 estuaries, and they are home to a wide range of native plants, fish and birds,” Ms Barry says.

“They are spawning sites for fish such as snapper, play a crucial role in water quality as ‘the kidneys of the Earth’, and have great cultural significance for Māori.”

Our Estuaries includes interactive maps showing places of interest, how to explore estuaries and community conservation work such as weeding, cockle counts and replanting efforts.

“The new website not only tells people how they can enjoy the unique habitats on their doorstep but also how to get involved in their conservation.”

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner says wetlands perform a vital role in improving water quality and reduce the impact of flooding and soil erosion.

“There has been a steady increase in the protection of New Zealand wetlands in the past 25 years,” Ms Wagner says.

Almost two-thirds – 63 per cent – of New Zealand’s 250,000 hectares of freshwater wetlands are now located within protected conservation land. This is a significant increase from 48 per cent in 1990.

“Working with community groups like the QEII National Trust, private landowners and iwi is vital to protect our wetlands for future generations.”

Our Estuaries can be found at

Note – World Wetlands Day celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in 1971. Six New Zealand wetlands are listed under the convention. Details can be found at