An area of native forest, wetland and river flats in Northland has been purchased thanks to a $655,000 grant.

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner announced yesterday the Nature Heritage Fund grant and a contribution of $55,000 from the Northland Fish and Game Council enabled the purchase of a 342-hectare site, 5km east of Dargaville, alongside the Manganui and Wairoa Rivers.

Three hundred hectares is remnant kauri, podocarp, hardwood forest and wetland, with the balance being drained river flats containing remnant areas of kahikatea.

"The Department of Conservation and the Northland Fish and Game Council have worked together with the Nature Heritage Fund to secure permanent protection of this land for its outstanding scenic and ecological qualities," Ms Wagner said.


"A survey completed 18 months ago confirmed the outstanding conservation features and habitat values of the area.

"The remnant forest and wetland area will be classified as scenic reserve for ongoing management by DoC, while the river flats will be classified a reserve and vested in the Northland Fish and Game Council."

Northland Fish and Game Council Regional Manager Rudi Hoetjes said the 40ha river flat area will be re-established as wetland habitat: "As soon as I saw this area, I was struck by its environmental importance and conservation value."

Once restoration is complete, waterfowl game bird hunting will be allowed. The area will also provide top quality habitat for native species such as mudfish, bittern, herons and pied stilts. Ponding of adjacent river margins will also eventually provide important habitat for spawning whitebait and threatened eel populations.