Wetland opened after two-year restoration drive

The Ohaaki Wetland has been brought back to its natural state and is once again a suitable habitat for birdlife, including rare and endangered species.

Officially opened on Friday by Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson, the restoration of the Reporoa wetland was a $1 million, two-year project to transform unused land affected  by subsidence.

An estimated 200ha of wetlands have been lost along the Waikato River in the past decade and Eastern Region Fish and Game chairman Barry Roderick said the Ohaaki Wetland aimed to recreate the natural wetlands that once existed.

"Established on 35ha of land beside the Waikato River, the Ohaaki Wetland is a unique marshland that enhances biodiversity in the Ohaaki region by providing suitable habitat for waterfowl and other bird life, including rare or endangered species such as the white heron (kotuku).''

Mr Roderick said the opening of the wetland had come as the result of foresight, very hard work and some huge generosity.

He paid tribute to Contact Energy, Wairakei Environmental Mitigation Charitable Trust and the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust for their help in the restoration.

"But I'd like to also acknowledge the work of hunters _ for without them, and their efforts to preserve or enhance their hunting spots,  New Zealand would have a lot fewer wetlands.

"Wildfowlers Association were among the first to push for this project. It should also have benefits for local iwi for harakeke [flax] and potentially tuna [eel] in the future.''

A 900m walking track to a viewing hide was also constructed and Mr Roderick said as timewent on, visitors would be able to enjoy the "tranquil'' setting while viewing more  wildlife.

Contact chief executive Dennis Barnes said the company had gifted the land for the wetland development and funding for it was provided by the two trusts.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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