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Healthy Waterways – protecting a wetland

Healthy Waterways – protecting a wetland

Updated 3 February 2021 1:38pm

View Michael Birch’s story of protecting the waterway on his farm, and how he made use of advice and financial support from Greater Wellington:

They’re a vital part of our freshwater ecosystem that need special care and attention

Got a wetland on your land? We can help protect it. 

This is how it works

A natural depression wetland in our region, filled with rushes, herbs, and sedges (wet paddock)


  • The term wetland covers a diverse range of areas that are either often or always wet. They are diverse for many reasons and include the margins of streams, rivers and lakes, as well as coastal estuaries and swamps.
  • They can soak up nutrients and contaminants
  • They help reduce the effect of floods
  • They provide important habitat for a wide range of threatened plants and animals
  • They have cultural and spiritual importance for Māori (Mahinga Kai, places of spiritual cleansing, gathering flax etc)

However, over 90% of our original wetlands have been lost – drained for agricultural or urban use.

In the Wellington region only 2.3% of the original extent of wetlands remain.

We need wetlands because…

  • They improve our water quality

Their role as a filter means they absorb nutrients and trap sediment that would otherwise go into our freshwater ecosystem.

  • They reduce flooding and drought

Wetlands have slow water flows during high rainfall and slowly release water in dry periods.

  • They support endangered wildlife

Many animals that can only live in wetlands – birds, fish, insects, lizards – are now endangered and need wetlands to survive. This includes plants too. Wetlands also provide a home for a large number of migratory birds.

Access support to protect a wetland on your property.

Greater Wellington Regional Council is committed to working with landowners through its support programmes to improve the health of our waterways and wetlands across the region. To help us to provide a quality service to landowners, we assess and record our level of engagement with landowners regularly during the support process. This information will be held securely and used only by GWRC staff for the stated purpose.