Auckland’s first accessible wetland – the doctor, the duck and the walkway

Minister of Conservation and Disability Issues Poto Williams is perfectly placed to be opening the first accessible wetland boardwalk in Auckland’s largest wetland, built by Jobs4Nature, on Wednesday 2nd of November at 2.30pm at wetland conservation and restoration project Matuku Link.

Minister  Poto Williams will cut a flax ribbon after Robin Taua-Gordon of local iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki has blessed the accessible walkway. This event will mark the opening of a pedestrian bridge over the Waitākere River connecting the Sustainable Wetland Education Centre via boardwalks and flat tracks to a pāteke viewing platform. It will provide people in wheelchairs, with walkers, buggies or prams the opportunity to experience the Matuku Link project where paddocks have been replaced by wetland trees and ponds have been created as habitat for the rare native duck pāteke (brown teal). Visitors can enjoy the sound of the stream flowing through the edge of the native forest with abundant birdlife thanks to an intensive predator control regime done by Matuku Link volunteers.

The Matuku Link project started in 2016 when four trustees fundraised for and bought the 37-hectare property at 111 Bethells Road for just over $2 million. Completely run by volunteers until 2020, the well-ventilated barn has been rebuilt as the Sustainable Wetland Education Centre. This is the base for volunteers, groups of helpers from businesses and the classroom for schools participating in the Te Reporepo. The onsite nursery, run by the volunteers of the Waitakere Rivercare group has grown over 10,000 eco-sourced plants for revegetation of the paddocks.

After Covid shut down all volunteer work and business visits in 2020, funding through the Partnering to Plant project by the Sustainable Business Network Jobs4Nature covid relief fund was found for four people to help with planting, weeding and track/boardwalk building. Trustee and founder of Matuku Link John Sumich approached Fulton Hogan for a vital part of the one-kilometre accessible walkway: a foot bridge over the Waitākere river. To everyone’s surprise they not only had such a bridge and were willing to donate it, but they even brought it to the site! Many other funders came on board (Lotteries Foundation and the Regional Environmental Natural Heritage Fund) as well as a range of other sponsors who donated time, materials and expertise to the project culminating in its opening next week.

We invite you to join us at Matuku Link to celebrate this milestone and learn more about its aims of protection, restoration and appreciation of the unique biodiversity of our New Zealand wetlands – home to the rare matuku (Australasian bittern); the namesake of this project! Please RSVP here. Or contact me for more information:  Annalily van den Broeke, project manager – 0212207136

Pictures: the bridge and the boardwalks, VIP Kayak Day on the Waitakere River which becomes Auckland’s largest wetland: Te Henga, Endangered native pateke (brown teal) – re-introduced after years of successful predator control are now breeding at Matuku Link, our accessible pathways also benefit our education program.