Aerial view of Whangamarino Wetland

Image: DOC


Arawai Kākāriki is ecologically restoring three of New Zealand’s foremost estuarine and freshwater wetland sites.


For a snapshot of our conservation achievements, see our Arawai Kakariki report cards

Arawai Kākāriki is a large-scale wetland restoration programme led by DOC.

The main goal is to protect wetlands, and increase our understanding of these productive environments. The better our understanding of these environments, the more we can improve wetland restoration in New Zealand.

An important part of the programme is getting the community involved. We are working with partners to improve our knowledge of wetland conservation issues, and building stronger relationships with iwi and regional councils.

Key sites of the programme

There is a focus on three of New Zealand's most significant wetland sites:

See a map of New Zealand showing the location of these sites.

Our aims

We have 10 main objectives to guide our conservation work and help us achieve the best possible outcomes.

Ecological restoration

  • Maintain or increase habitat extent
  • Enhance water regime and quality
  • Protect or restore ecosystem condition.
  • Enhance species diversity and protect threatened species

Mātauranga Māori

  • Work with iwi, hapū, and whānau to embrace Mātauranga Māori 

Work with others

  • Maximise partnerships and participation
  • Increase awareness and appreciation
  • Share scientific and technical knowledge 


  • Undertake research to improve wetland management.
  • Develop best practice restoration tools.

Read more about each site, and Arawai Kākāriki's achievements to date.

Science at our wetlands

To manage our wetlands effectively, we need to understand the ecological processes that keep these areas healthy and resilient. Currently there is limited information of some threats to wetlands and this creates a "knowing–doing" gap.

Science research is helping to fill this gap. By working together, scientists and wetland managers are able to describe sensible goals and guidelines for restoration.

Alongside monitoring, good science also shows what isn't working so we can develop more efficient and effective methods. By maintaining healthy and resilient wetlands we can protect the natural capital in wetlands, and enhance the services they are capable of providing.

Community involvement

The three wetland sites are all different in terms of management approaches, land ownership and communities of interest. Building community awareness and involvement in wetland conservation is an important component of the Arawai Kākāriki programme.

At all three sites, the community is involved in some way, and they are informed about what is happening at each site through newsletters, factsheets, meetings, events, displays and media articles.

Working in partnership at Waituna

DOC, Environment Southland, Southland District Council, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and Te Runanga o Awarua, all have statutory roles in the care and managment of Waituna Lagoon and its catchment.

In 2013 we formally came together as the Waituna Partners. We will work alongside the community and other stakeholders for the long term benefit of Waituna Lagoon, its catchment, and the community.

Our goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of Waituna Lagoon, its catchment, and community, for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations, while recognising and providing for the traditional relationship of Ngai Tahu with their ancestral lake/rohe.

Find out more on Waituna Lagoon on the Environment Southland website.

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