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Sanctuary to Sea
ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary

Sanctuary to Sea

Kia Mauriora te Kaiwharawhara

From our Sanctuary to the Sea

ZEALANDIA’s first 20 years was all about focusing on the land within our pioneering predator-proof fence, and what a success this has been. The valley now harbours a rich habitat for many birds, lizards, and invertebrates, and our vegetation is now thriving. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of a huge range of volunteers, members, staff and donors that have supported the project along the way.

While the restoration of the valley remains of utmost importance, ZEALANDIA’s second generation strategy ‘Living with Nature’ extends beyond the fence—the goal is to help create a nature-rich future for Wellington city. As part of this vision, the sanctuary recently initiated a new project to engage the community in a whole-of-catchment waterway improvement effort.  

ZEALANDIA’s new project, ‘Sanctuary to Sea’, aims to improve fish habitats throughout the Kaiwharawhara catchment, enhance fish migration and improve forest corridors for birds leaving the sanctuary.

Why the Kaiwharawhara catchment?

Aside from the fact that the headwaters of the catchment begin within the ZEALANDIA sanctuary, the catchment is incredibly important to the region as it holds the largest stream system in Wellington City. It also has one of the few remaining tributaries with a natural estuary mouth into the harbour. The streams of this important valley have high native fish values, providing habitat for short jaw kōkopu, banded kōkopu, kōaro and giant kōkopu.

The catchment is also important for people. It is a much loved recreational destination with links to the Sanctuary to Sea Walkway and the proposed Great Harbour Way – Te Aranui o Pōneke project. There are already numerous community groups involved in the restoration of the area, who are making huge strides in enhancing the environmental values of the area.

What will ZEALANDIA be doing?

The project starts within the sanctuary with the rehabilitation of the Karori lower reservoir. This is a huge project that is in the early planning stages, but we are committed to tackling this big challenge. Naturally what happens inside the waterways of the valley will affect what happens downstream, so we are looking to help coordinate efforts downstream to improve aquatic habitats throughout the catchment, restore fish migration pathways, and enhance habitat connectivity for birds.

Ultimately this project aims to demonstrate how we can work together to enhance the environmental values of a waterway in an urban landscape. Already we have held two community meetings associated with the project, and these have shown just how much enthusiasm there is to get involved in this urban restoration project.

Our wonderful partners

The Sanctuary to Sea project wouldn’t be possible without partners. This includes over 15 restoration organisations, as well as iwi, Morphum Environmental, Wellington City Council, Wellington Water and Greater Wellington Regional Council. ZEALANDIA is also committed to education and is currently working with Enviro-schools and Mountain to Sea-White Bait Connections to support schools and children with their on-ground restoration efforts.

Some of the activities that have already been occurring including a huge effort to map stormwater issues within the catchment led by Morphum Environmental Ltd, , a citizen science training session for people to learn about fresh water monitoring, and engaging with iwi to find new ways to reconnect people with this incredible landscape.

We are hugely excited to be embarking on this new adventure. It will be a long-term project with a 100 year vision, but with so many incredible people involved we have no doubt it will be something special.

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