Background for the Awarua/Waituna Catchment

The Awarua-Waituna wetlands comprise more than 20,000 hectares of wetlands, including a coastal lagoon, freshwater streams, and the Awarua Bay and New River estuary. The focus area for the Living Water partnership is the Waituna Wetland Scientific Reserve, a 3,500-hectare wetland, which includes the Waituna Lagoon. 

  • Waituna Lagoon and the surrounding wetlands area is one of the first in New Zealand to be officially recognised as a wetland of international importance and listed under the Ramsar Convention. 
  • The wetlands provide habitats for a rich array of native wildlife and are a nationally important site for migrating wading birds. They are also home to a range of threatened species such as the Australasian bittern and are an important area for mahinga kai. 
  • More than 70 per cent of the Waituna catchment has been converted from wetland and native bush to agricultural land over the past 150 years. Approximately three per cent of wetland areas in Waituna remain on private land.