The Minister of Conservation is urging that we protect what we have left for our declining kukuwai (wetlands) as New Zealand clings on to the remaining 10% of wetland area.
“Our wetlands are the land’s kidneys, capturing sediments and nutrients, and slowly releasing water in drought-prone areas. They are home to precious wildlife and plants and are wonderful places for people to experience nature,” Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said in December 2018.
Although they play a vital role in New Zealand’s ecosystem and are of great cultural and spiritual significance to Maori, in many circles wetlands have little-to-no social value and are often referenced as swamps; home to lurking perils.
Unfortunately, the depiction of wetlands hasn’t evolved much and this has resulted in communities distancing themselves from their local wetland areas and the associated smells and risks.
What if we could evolve the narrative…?
Regardless of public perception, wetlands play a significant role in New Zealand.
In their primary state, wetlands create a safe habitat and food source for several native plants, animals and birds. Including endangered species like the mudfish - including the Canterbury kowaro.
Wetlands also play an equally significant role in helping to delay and reduce the impacts that prolonged dry periods can have on our natural water systems.
Liam Foster, WSP Water Sector Leader, believes that it’s time the narrative met the marvels of New Zealand’s wetland areas, by introducing discussions between communities and public sectors.