An open day is planned to highlight the transformation of a waste area into a wildlife sanctuary on the harbour side at Onerahi.

People are invited to bring picnics and spend the day enjoying the privately owned Dragonfly Springs Wetlands, which 10 years ago was little more than a scruffy, flood-prone area of open drains and illegal rubbish dumps.

The mangrove-fringed site is now a well-planted nature reserve where freshwater springs' drainage and pond system support numerous bird species.

A metre below sea level at places, the land was marked for subdivision before that plan folded in 2002.

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In 2004, after a campaign to urge Whangarei District Council to buy the site to prevent it from ever being built on, Jeremy Busck and Pamela Winter bought it themselves only hours before it went to a mortgagee sale auction.

A couple of years later the couple started the mammoth task of turning the neglected area into a wetland sanctuary, putting in drainage and run-off filtering systems and starting a native plant nursery for the re-vegetation project.

The open day, Sandwiches in the Sanctuary, is from 10am to 4pm on November 20. Access is at the end of Raumati Crescent, Onerahi.