Volunteers from all over the world are helping return
Sinclair Wetland to a mostly weed and pest-free ecological
For the past 12 months, part-time co-ordinator Glen Riley has
been concentrating on getting the 315ha wetland, owned by
Ngai Tahu, back into shape.
Plugging into the growing volunteer tourism market as well as
connecting with community and school groups meant he had a
workforce the wetland could not otherwise afford.
As the wetland, which was protected by a QEII covenant, had
an education centre and accommodation on site, people could
stay while they helped out.
''We've had 11,000 volunteer hours this year. That's massive.
It's been a real success.''
The workers, from mainly European countries and Australia,
have pitched in to help get on top of the weeds that had
invaded the wetland and helped with the extensive pest
So far 11 weasels, 31 stoats, 10 ferrets, three feral cats
and 35 possums had been caught.
''They muck in, learn a lot and seem to love it.''
It made a better environment for the many wetland species
which made their home there, including fern birds, long and
short-fin eels, giant kokopu (galaxiid) and native ducks, and
it helped attract new species such as the royal spoonbill.
Now the wetland was in better shape, Mr Riley was starting to
look to the future and developing the facilities so more
people were aware of the amazing and rare resource that was
on their doorstep.
The existing facilities were built in the 1980s and not much
had been done since, he said.
Designs for boardwalks and improvements including a new plant
nursery were in the works.
The aim was to focus on a message of living sustainably by
introducing improvements such as solar panels and composting
More immediately, thanks to a grant from the Mahinerangi
Catchment Fund, they were about to start fencing off the
farmland part of the property, which was leased out, from the
wetlands itself, he said.
''That will really enhance the wetland as we've had issues
with stock getting in, defecation, and dying in the
Mr Riley was looking forward to the challenges ahead.
• 40km south Dunedin on Taieri Plain.
• 315ha privately owned wetland.
• Farm bought by Horrie Sinclair in 1960 and reverted to
• Protected by Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Open Space
• 60 species of bird live or visit the wetland.
• Now privately owned by Ngai Tahu.