A Hawke's Bay winery is trying to help a rare native bird nest on the waterways which run through its vineyards.

Church Road Winery has been building rafts for weweia, also known as the New Zealand dabchick, for the last eight years.

The winery team, including staff from both the vineyard and cellar door, spent the day on Thursday building rafts for the weweia, as well as planting native trees and clearing non-native plants such as gorse.

Operations manager Peter Hurlstone said the winery has been building the rafts for about eight years, when they first noticed weweia near the dam at Matapiro.

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"The guys actually just noticed one day, I guess some birds they hadn't noticed before."

"They sort of looked like small ducks, but they are not ducks."

The team at Church Road Winery building one of their dabchick rafts. Photo / Supplied
The team at Church Road Winery building one of their dabchick rafts. Photo / Supplied

"And then they did a bit of homework on it, and identified they are dabchicks, which are actually quite rare."

While weweia are now classified as recovering by DOC, at the time they were classified as endangered.

The team then did further research and learned weweia build their nests on the water.

"One of the challenges for the poor old things is that if the water level rises and falls quite often their nests get drowned."

The idea to build a raft was born, using plastic pallets, recycled milk bottles and plants on the top.

"The dabchicks took a shine to it, in the time since they've started doing it, they seen about 20 young dabchicks reared, so it's actually worked extremely effectively."

On Thursday staff spent the day building more rafts, both for the Matapiro site and the winery's site on the Tukituki River.

One of the rafts being launched on Thursday. Photo / Supplied
One of the rafts being launched on Thursday. Photo / Supplied

He said about 40 staff took part on the day, both building the rafts, as well as doing planting work.

He said water, the environment and sustainability are all things which are becoming more critical, and tackling those issues are important not just in terms of sustainable viticulture, but because it is the right thing to do.

"The two just go hand-in-hand."

"I think we are pretty fortunate in Hawke's Bay that our vineyards are in this beautiful area and if we can do everything we can to enhance those areas we are fortunate enough to be operating in then that has to be good for everybody."

He said he would encourage every vineyard in Hawke's Bay to start considering what they could do in terms of sustainability in their area, if they are not already.

The planting day was part of Chruch Road Winery's parent company, Pernod Ricard, Responsib'ALL Day, which sees Pernod Ricard companies undertake sustainability projects right across the world.