QEII National Trust CEO, Mike Jebson says “Taupō Swamp is an outstanding wetland treasure, and we’ve chosen to celebrate World Wetlands Day by planting some swamp flax out at the swamp. We did the planting in an area of the swamp impacted by arson several years ago.”
Jebson says ‘this outstanding and extensive wetland is easily seen when travelling on State Highway 1 north of Plimmerton and Wellingtonians will have passed this many times. We know swamps may not be considered by some as the sexiest of natural habitats but this swamp is special having had the royal seal of approval on separate occasions by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew.
This important wetland was afforded the full protection provided by the QEII National Trust following its purchase in 1988 with the help of the Wellington Regional, Porirua City Council, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and others.
Taupo Swamp was the first major wetland to be protected in the Wellington region and is a biodiversity gem because of the rich diversity of plants, fish, birds, reptiles and insects that can be found there. This wetland also plays a crucial role in regulating water flows reducing, the risks of local flooding, capturing nutrients and sediments from surrounding farmland to improve water quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Recent surveys of Taupō Swamp show it is currently home to:
- 19 native bird species - six of these species are currently on the nationally threatened list, including historic records of bittern which is classified as Threatened-Nationally Critical. Other species found in the swamp, like the New Zealand pied oystercatcher, red-billed gull, marsh crake, and spotless crake are also at risk.
- a highly diverse and complex range of plants – including many natives like flax, wetland sedges and small herbaceous species such as swamp buttercup, ferns, and marsh willowherb. Harakeke, swamp flax once used extensively for fibre, is a feature of this wetland.
- native freshwater fish like the longfin eel, banded and giant kokopu and giant bully. Many of these fish species are also classified as at risk.
- The wetland is also in the top 8% of Wellington sites in terms of biotic integrity, which means Taupo Swamp is a healthy and thriving freshwater wetland swamp, and a treasure for biodiversity and native wildlife right on our doorstep. Taupō Swamp is a rare example of a lowland freshwater, peat forming wetland in the Wellington region.
- Contrary to popular belief this swamp was not formed following the 1855 earthquake but was formed by a series of large earthquakes over a period of 3,000 years which uplifted the seabed of a Porirua Harbour inlet. The 1855 earthquake was the last of these very large earthquakes which formed the swamp.
We are working with Wellington Regional Council and Predator Free Plimmerton on pest plant and pest animal control, with regular trapping for possum, stoats, weasels and rats in and around the wetland.
Mike Jebson says ‘we lucky to be able to head out and enjoy such a range of our rare and native wetland flora and fauna, so close to our wonderful city.”
Protected wetlands like Taupo swamp are vital to our region when you realise that since humans arrived in New Zealand, 90% of wetlands nationally and 97.7 % of wetlands in the Wellington region have been drained and developed with a consequent huge loss of native biodiversity.
The Wellington Regional Council is currently considering what status to afford Taupo Swamp in its ‘Proposed Natural Resources Plan’. It is important to ensure the wetland gets the status it deserves. As the owner of this swamp we are proposing that this swamp must be recognised and classified as an ‘Outstanding’ wetland, to help maintain this special environment for future generations. There are not many like it, and certainly none in our region.”