Wetlands of New Zealand

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New Zealand has several notable wetlands but 90% of wetland areas have been lost following European settlement.


The Resource Management Act 1991, an important Act of Parliament determining land use, defines wetlands as "permanently or intermittently wet areas, shallow water, and land water margins that support a natural ecosystem of plants and animals that area adapted to wet conditions.". The Ramsar Convention, an international conservation agreement for wetlands to which New Zealand signed up to in 1971, has a wider definition of wetland.[1]

Wetlands in New Zealand[edit]

The Department of Conservation is the New Zealand agency which administers the Ramsar Convention.[2] Ramsar sites in New Zealand as of 2008 are:[3]

These make up a total area of 39,068 hectares. Other notable wetlands are Ahukawakawa Swamp, Aramoana, the Kepler Mire, Kai Iwi Lakes, the Sinclair Wetlands, and Te Henga, as well as areas around the lower reaches of the Waikato River.


In the past 150 years New Zealand has lost about 90% of its wetland areas due to draining for farming. Many remaining wetlands are also degraded due to pollution, grazing, drainage and presence of invasive plants.[4]

In recent decades there have been efforts made towards wetland conservation. The Rakatu Wetlands in the South Island that are an ecological restoration project set up address the environmental effects of the construction of the Manapouri Power Station. Travis Wetland is a restoration project covering 116 ha of land formerly drained and used as a dairy farm. It is in an urban area of Christchurch.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnson, Peter; Philippe Gereaux (2004). Wetland types of New Zealand (PDF). Department of Conservation (New Zealand). ISBN 0-478-22604-7. 
  2. ^ "Who administers the convention?: About DOC's international wetlands role". Department of Conservation. 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.ramsar.org/sitelist.pdf
  4. ^ "Chapter 7: Key points". State of New Zealand's Environment 1997. Ministry for the Environment. Retrieved 2010-05-28. Wetland areas have been reduced by about 85 percent in the last century and a half, from nearly 700,000 hectares to about 100,000 hectares. 

Further reading[edit]

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