10 Dec 2021

Gulf Guardians: Love Our Wetlands Waiheke Project

Next on our profile of Gulf Guardians projects, we spoke to Beth from Love our Wetlands: Waiheke Resources Trust about their project in progress supported by Sustainable Business Network.


Can you tell us a bit about you?

Waiheke Resources Trust (WRT) is a non-profit sustainability hub. We celebrate and protect all the resources we have, and build capacity and knowledge in the community toward the creation of a resource-full future for all.

Our many projects work together to support thriving environments and communities by engaging people in environmental restoration, providing waste reduction support and educational events. We collaborate with volunteers, interns, local business, national and regional networks, iwi, government bodies, subject experts and amazing Waiheke whānau to get the job done.



Can you explain what project you're working on?

The Love Our Wetlands Waiheke (LOWW) project takes a ‘whole of landscape’ ecological approach to restoring wetlands. WRT works with the local community, schools, visitors and corporate volunteers to restore seven significant wetlands using a methodical weed management plan that is spray-free and uses minimal herbicide. A manual approach by volunteers and a dedicated workforce is achieving high success rates in weed eradication and native planting.


What is your project trying to acheive?

LOWW aims to restore Waiheke’s wetlands and the wider catchments to the thriving ecological habitats they once were, and to achieve this by connecting the community with the land, creating meaningful employment and educational opportunities.

Since Love Our Wetlands began in 2015, 32,110 eco-sourced trees have been planted (with 10,000 of those being planted in the 2021 planting season) and 3,082 volunteers have given 11,287 hours of volunteer effort.

WRT’s planting success rate now sits at 90% due to the holistic and ongoing nature of post-planting tree care that is possible through funding coming from philanthropic organisations,

Government and donations (including ongoing Million Meters crowd-sourced funding which has restored 2907.47 linear meters). It is vital to demonstrate a good return on investment both to show the long-term benefit to the whenua and to maintain our reputation to funders.

Why is this important to you?

90% of wetlands in New Zealand have been drained for agriculture and development. Wetlands are vital ecosystems that help to alleviate flooding, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (thereby mitigating the effects of climate change); provide essential habitats for rare, threatened and endemic wildlife; and filter and trap contaminants and sediment that would otherwise flow into our oceans.

On Waiheke, as with many other places in Aotearoa, we are also repairing the cultural damage to wetland sites, stemming from New Zealand’s colonisation. This winter planting season we invited Ngāti Paoa and Uri Karaka whānau to Owhanake, a culturally significant site where the restoration work is just beginning. Ecological impacts in this area can be traced back to the early 1800s when shingle was removed from the bay and used to build parts of Auckland. Clearing the invasive weeds, healing the soil and planting eco-sourced native trees back in this wetland is a way for us to awhi this area.


Can you put into perspective how helpful funding is for your project?

Kaitiakitanga is the guiding principle for WRT’s Love Our Wetlands work, and people appreciate that Waiheke is a special destination that needs to be cared for. Funding and support via partners such as Million Metres is changing the fortunes of Waiheke’s wetlands and the wildlife that rely on them.

LOWW, and in particular the mahi to restore Rangihoua wetland, has gone from strength to strength thanks to Million Metres donors. The results can be visited and enjoyed by anyone and WRT is keen to spread the word and support others who want to replicate this model.

With four years of Million Metres-funded planting to look back on, it is easy to see a measurable positive impact on Waiheke’s wetlands. An unintended consequence of restoring wetlands near public thoroughfares has been the feedback from passers-by; the LOWW team has recorded positive comments on plantings and how much their work is valued.