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New Zealand Partnership Protects Rare Plant

02 February 2016 | New Zealand Department of Conservation News Release

The floodplain is home to one third of the known population of the heart-leaved kohuhu or Pittosporum obcordatum. The species is listed as nationally vulnerable and only around 2,000 kohuhu plants exist nationwide.

Living Water is a 10-year partnership between Fonterra and DOC which is working with farmers, iwi, conservation groups, schools and other agencies to improve the health of five key catchments in significant dairying regions throughout the country.

Living Water recently funded an ecological study that identified 146 of the rare plants in the Hikurangi catchment. Ninety kohuhu plants were found on Fonterra farmers Steve and Amber Brown’s property. They’ve protected the kohuhu by fencing off the area.

Steve Brown says as a steward of the land he understands the importance of working to preserve land for future generations and the support he’s received from Living Water helps him do this.

“When we discovered this plant on the farm, and learned there was so little of it left, we knew we had to do something to look after it. I’d already worked with the Living Water team to build a constructed wetland on my farm, so it was good to have their support for this as well.”

Fonterra GM Responsible Dairying Emma Parsons says the Browns’ efforts demonstrate Living Water’s value.

“The work Steve and Amber have done on their farm highlights the small things people can do to make a big difference to the overall future of our nation’s environment.”

DOC Director of Operations, Northern North Island Whangarei, Sue Reed-Thomas says the Hikurangi flood plain was once wetland covered in native bush. But now there are only a few small pockets of native vegetation remaining on the floodplain.

“It’s essential we protect what is left. We thank the Brown’s for fencing the native bush remnant on their farm that includes a precious patch of kohuhu plants.”

“Living Water is working to protect and enhance the remaining wetland and forest areas on the Hikurangi flood plain. We’re also planting new stretches of native flax and grasses on the banks of waterways.”

This riparian planting will help improve water quality in the catchment by stemming the flow of sediment and nutrients into the waterways. It’s also aimed at connecting islands of remnant native forest and wetland, expanding the habitat for native birds, fish and plants in the catchment.

The Living Water partnership is highlighting the importance of wetlands today, February 2, as this is World Wetlands Day – celebrating the signing of the Ramsar Convention. This an international treaty, signed by New Zealand and 168 other countries, providing a framework for the conservation of wetlands.

About the Fonterra DOC Living Water programme

Living Water is a 10-year partnership between Fonterra and DOC who are working with dairy farmers, iwi, conservation groups, schools and other agencies to improve the health of five key catchments in significant dairying regions throughout the country.

Work to achieve this includes planting native trees, shrubs and grasses along waterways. This reduces sediment and nutrient run-off into the waterways and provides a habitat for native birds and fish. Animal predators and weeds are also being controlled, enabling native wildlife and plants to thrive

The Living Water catchments are:

  • Kaipara Harbour – Northland – focusing on Hikurangi catchment north of Whangarei
  • Firth of Thames / Tīkapa Moana – Hauraki Gulf – focusing on Pūkorokoro / Miranda catchment
  • Waikato peat lakes – focusing on lakes Areare,Ruatuna and Rotomānuka
  • Te  Waihora / Lake Ellesmere – Canterbury – focusing on the Ararira/LII catchment
  • Awarua -Waituna – Southland – focusing on Waituna catchment.

About Fonterra

Fonterra is a global leader in dairy nutrition – the preferred supplier of dairy ingredients to many of the world’s leading food companies. Fonterra is also a market leader with our own consumer dairy brands in Australia/New Zealand, Asia/Africa, Middle East and Latin America.

The farmer-owned New Zealand co-operative is the largest processor of milk in the world, producing more than two million tonnes of dairy ingredients, value added dairy ingredients, specialty ingredients and consumer products every year. Drawing on generations of dairy expertise, Fonterra is one of the largest investors in dairy based research and innovation in the world. Our more than 16,000 staff work across the dairy spectrum from advising farmers on sustainable farming and milk production, to ensuring we live up to exacting quality standards and delivering every day on our customer promise in more than 100 markets around the world.


Anna Johnstone, Fonterra Communications
Phone: +64 21 458 831
24 hour media line: +64 21 507 072

Nick Hirst, DOC Media Advisor
Phone: +64 9 307 4846
Mobile: +64 27 704 7773

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