Project Title: Restoring a wāhi taonga - Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau / Sinclair Wetlands

Funding Close Date: 29 Feb 2020



Metres Planted:
550 m

NZD $47300

Location: Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau / Sinclair Wetland

GPS Coordinates: -45.981850, 170.088964

Project Cost: NZD $47300

Cost per Metre: NZD $86

Metres to be planted: 550m

Project ID: SI10

Project Description:


Million Metres is really excited to announce that Speight’s has rolled up its sleeves to help look after what matters – New Zealand’s precious waterways. You can read all about our partnership with Speight’s here.

In short, Speight’s has put up $120,000 over the next three years to support waterway planting projects in the Otago region. Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau/ Sinclair Wetlands is one of the projects that Speight’s is supporting.  Every new donation for these Wetlands will be matched by Speight’s. Make your donation now!


In the early 18th century, local chief Tukiauau and his Kāti Māmoe iwi, pursued by Kāi Tahu, took refuge on Whakaraupuka (Ram Island) and set up their village  (nohoaka).  Tukiauau’s name remains attached to the wetlands, while the swamp complex remained an important food basket and precious place (mahika kai) for people into the present day. 

As well as being an important cultural site, the wetland is an incredibly important area ecologically. It provides habitat for native birds, fish and insects and helps to reduce the severity of flooding and droughts by absorbing and storing excess rainfall and releasing this water again in hot weather. Wetlands also act as a filter between land and water helping stop sediment and pollutants entering our streams, rivers and harbours. 


In early farming days most of the Taieri Plains wetlands were drained and converted to farmland, leaving just two of the original lakes (Waihola and Waipori) and their adjacent swamps.  

Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau/ Sinclair Wetlands, through the vision of Horrie Sinclair have been protected since the 1960’s, low lying areas were retired from pumping and grazing and a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust open space covenant was registered. In 1998 the property was returned to Ngāi Tahu as part of the Ngāi Tahu Claim Settlement Act. Since this time, restoration efforts have accelerated through strong links with the iwi, community and volunteer networks. Our aims are to protect and enhance the wetland system of Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau/ Sinclair Wetlands. We put emphasis on restoring vegetation condition and healthy habitat, maintaining water quality, while enhancing mahika kai, restoring the connection that local iwi have with their ancestral site, and reconnecting people back to the land via education and hands-on experience.

Within the swamps the main plants are ten species of Carex sedges (so-called ‘cutty-grasses’), shrubs of mingimingi, and fans of harakeke. The slightly higher ground of river margins hold more trees and shrubs, including tī kouka (cabbage trees), while water margins have dense reedlands of raupō that extend as rafts out across the water. Numerous aquatic plants provide food for ducking and diving waterbirds.


The island, Whakaraupuka  still holds remnants of the original native bush. Restoration of forest is now well underway, as weedy gorse and broom scrub are being replaced by plantings of a large range of native tree species, especially, in the pioneer stages, kōhūhū, pāpāuma/broadleaf, kānuka, kōwhai, horoeka /lancewood, and koromiko. We are raising funds to continue the restoration of this area.

We will plant 6,000 native trees which will restore 9,000 m2 of Whakaraupuka island. Funds raised will go towards preparing the site for planting including removing weeds, plants and plant guards to protect the young plants as well as funding volunteer co-ordination and 3 years of maintenance.

We try to use as little chemicals as possible and rely on volunteer power to weed around the young plants to ensure their survival. We have a few hungry rabbits on site so the tree guards are essential to protect the plants as they grow.

We are so grateful to Trees That Count who have funded over half the trees already. All the plants are eco-sourced from a variety of places. One third will come from commercial nurseries, another third grown for us by Otago Corrections Facility and the final 1 third grown on-site by our volunteers.


We need your support to raise $47,300, which will plant 6,000 native plants to restore this incredibly important site. Remember – our mates, Speight’s, will double your donation!

Progress Photos: