The Wetland Symposium was organised jointly by the Department of Conservation’s Arawai Kakariki Wetland Restoration Programme and the National Wetland Trust. The symposium featured several guest speakers, including Ramsar’s Oceania secretariat representative Vainuupo Jungblut, who is based in Samoa.
The symposium gave delegates from major South Island wetlands including Awarua-Waituna (Southland), O Tu Wharekai (Ashburton) and Farewell Spit the opportunity to share experiences with their northern counterparts.
Delegates visited North Island Ramsar sites at Whangamarino, Kopuatai and Pokorokoro/Miranda wetlands during the symposium and heard talks from on-site speakers. These included Te Kauwhata farmer and Waikato Regional Councillor Peter Buckley, who addressed the group at a stop near Lake Waikare.
Peter Buckley addresses Ramsar symposium delegates during a field trip stop near Lake Waikare
Mr Buckley said although he had lived and farmed near the internationally significant Whangamarino wetland all his life, it was a chat with wetlands conservationist Gordon Stephenson several years ago that had really ‘opened his eyes’ to their true worth.
“Gordon Stephenson has been a leading wetlands advocate for many years and his explanation of their value and the part they play in our environment generally was so compelling. It brought home to me the true value of this huge wetland on my very doorstep.”
Mr Buckley told delegates he had since developed a wetland on his own farm to help filter water run-off before it actually passes into the Whangamarino.
New Zealand is one of 168 signatories [contracting parties] to the Convention which was established in 1975, following a meeting of international participants at Ramsar (Iranian city) in 1971. More than 2100 wetlands throughout the world are now managed according to the Convention.