Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Through our Living Water partnership with Fonterra, we are supporting an international partnership to secure a safe flight path for New Zealand’s bird of the year - the bar-tailed godwit.

Date:  29 October 2015

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Chinese Ambassador Wang Lutong were at Pukorokoro-Miranda on the Firth of Thames yesterday (Wednesday 28 October) to see first-hand the birds they're working to protect.

Bar-tailed godwits and red knots have returned to Pūkorokoro-Miranda, to spend the summer, having flown 12,000km from Alaska and Siberia. The godwits breed in Alaska, the red knots breed in Siberia.

Recognised under the Ramsar Convention as an internationally significant wetland, Pūkorokoro Miranda, on the Firth of Thames, has a Chenier Plain, consisting of shell banks. This rare coastal feature provides a seasonal home for about 40 species of shorebirds

Pūkorokoro Miranda is one of five Living Water catchments that are spread throughout the country and located in significant dairying regions. Fonterra and DOC are working with dairy farmers, iwi and conservation groups to improve the health of these catchments.

Living Water has been supporting the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Naturalists' Trust - that runs the shore bird centre near Miranda - and Ngāti Paoa, in the work they're doing to secure a safe flight path for these birds.

"Around 5000 godwits spend their summers at Pūkorokoro-Miranda. They fly non-stop from Siberia, covering the 12,000km in eight to nine days," says DOC Director-General Lou Sanson.

"In March the godwits fly back to Siberia. On this journey they stop in China to refuel. DOC and the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Naturalists' Trust are working with authorities in China on protecting the Chinese sites, where godwits and red knots feed during their annual flights to their breeding grounds in Alaska and Siberia."

Chair of the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Naturalists' Trust, Gillian Vaughan, says the trust began visiting the Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve in China in 1999, establishing a sister-site partnership with the reserve in 2004.

"The Chinese shores of the Yellow Sea include some key sites that allow species like the bar-tailed godwit and red knot to complete their incredible migratory journeys. Protecting and enhancing areas like the Caofadien coast and Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve will be a key to preserving New Zealand's biodiversity."

"Shorebirds link our countries together and its essential New Zealand continues to work with China and other countries connected by these birds."

Fonterra Director of Social Responsibility, Carolyn Mortland, says Fonterra is proud to be involved in conservation work to ensure this treasured bird can continue their epic flights as part of their life cycle.

"This area, and the birds that nest here, are of international significance and we're doing what we can to protect and enhance its future. Any time we remove or change the size of one piece of the puzzle that makes up our ecosystem we run the risk of changing the picture – our farmers understand this and the importance of protecting our biodiversity for future generations," said Carolyn Mortland.

Ngāti Paoa spokesperson Gary Thompson says the iwi has a strong connection to kuaka or godwits. "Our ancestors have watched this special bird come and go from Pūkorokoro on its incredible flights all the way to Alaska and back for generations."

"We're pleased to be working with DOC, Fonterra and the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Naturalists' Trust to protect this taonga. We want to ensure kuaka continue to make their amazing journey for generations to come."

About the Fonterra DOC Living Water programme

Pūkorokoro Miranda is one of five Living Water catchments that are spread throughout the country and located in significant dairying regions. Fonterra and DOC are working with dairy farmers, iwi and conservation groups to improve the bio diversity and water quality of these catchments.

Living Water is a 10-year partnership between Fonterra and the Department of Conservation (DOC) who are working with dairy farmers, iwi, conservation groups, schools and other agencies to improve the health of five key catchments in significant dairying regions throughout the country.

Living Water is working to improve water quality and increase the abundance and variety of native wildlife in the five catchments.

Work to achieve this includes planting native trees, shrubs and grasses along waterways. This reduces sediment and nutrient run-off into the waterways and provides a habitat for native birds and fish. Animal predators and weeds are also being controlled, enabling native wildlife and plants to thrive

The Living Water catchments are:

  • Kaipara Harbour Northland - focusing on Hikurangi catchment north of Whangarei
  • Firth of Thames / Tīkapa Moana - Hauraki Gulf - focusing on Pūkorokoro / Miranda catchment
  • Waikato peat lakes - focusing on lakes Areare,Ruatuna and Rotomānuka
  • Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere - Canterbury - focusing on Ararira/LII catchment
  • Awarua -Waituna - Southland - focusing on Waituna catchment

About Fonterra

Fonterra is a global leader in dairy nutrition – the preferred supplier of dairy ingredients to many of the world's leading food companies. It is also a market leader with its own consumer dairy brands in New Zealand and Australia, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Fonterra is a farmer-owned co-operative and the largest processor of milk in the world. It is one of the world's largest investors in dairy research and innovation drawing on generations of dairy expertise to produce more than two million tonnes of dairy ingredients, value added dairy ingredients, specialty ingredients and consumer products for 140 markets.


For media enquiries contact:


Anna Johnstone, Fonterra Communications
Phone: +64 21 458 831
24 hour media line: +64 21 507 072

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