Wetlands and saltmarsh


From the wetlands and saltmarshes, we source the fibres of the raupō – the reeds that give Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour its name. Raupō – a summer-green swamp plant – is the kaitiaki/guardian for the low-lying areas in the Teddington area. It also grows alongside several other important species, including īnanga/whitebait, harakeke/flax and seagrass.

Current state

Raupō hasn’t established its presence in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. The few reeds that are there see straight drainage ditches and little remaining wetland. There is extensive areas of exotic plant species and stock can be seen grazing close to the shoreline. Erosion of the surrounding hills has led to high sedimentation rates with muddy bays more common than freshwater wetlands.

Our vision

In the future, raupō will grow thick within the extensive wetlands and saltmarsh on the flatter areas near the coastline. It will grow alongside harakeke/flax bushes that will be used by local weavers and artists. A labyrinth of watercourses will be established to help wetlands ecosystem where insects, birdlife, and plants will thrive.


See how we aim to improve wetlands and saltmarsh

The Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour plan will focus on re-establishing the natural drainage paths and the coastal wetlands and enhancement of the saltmarsh at the head of the bay. This ecological band will benefit from the development of a programme to target erosion and sedimentation. We will also target key pollutants and improve marine biodiversity.

Key Focus Areas

The Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour plan uses four Key Focus Areas that will restore the ecological and cultural health of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour as mahinga kai. They are erosion and sedimentation, pollution, terrestrial indigenous biodiversity, and marine indigenous biodiversity. The Key Focus Areas were identified based on feedback from the community, consultation with Tangata Tiaki from Rāpaki, and recommendations from a science advisory group.

Priority project

  • (1.6) Develop an integrated, multidisciplinary programme to target erosion and sedimentation in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. This will include:
    • Mapping key sediment sources and erosion hotspots
    • Monitoring the locations and rates of erosion
    • Monitoring the rates of sedimentation in the streams and the sea
    • Supporting landowners with advice and actively addressing hotspots
    • • Promoting best practice erosion and sediment control techniques (erosion and sediment control toolbox, Builders Pocket Guide) for use in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour for rural, residential, industrial, roading, agricultural, forestry, and construction

Within three years

  • (1.9) Implement best practice erosion and sediment control techniques by ensuring they are adopted by all land owners and that all properties greater than 40 ha have an operational Farm Environment Plan (FEP) that addresses erosion and sedimentation.

Four years plus

  • (1.12) Review statutory and non-statutory regional/city planning documents, strategies and bylaws to determine if they appropriately manage erosion and sedimentation for Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour.

Four years plus

  • (2.5) Identify and promote pollution control practices that are appropriate for use in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour to manage water quality effects associated with:
    • Septic tanks
    • Non-consented water takes
    • Stormwater and wastewater discharges
    • Vessels
    • Port operations
    • Contaminants from other sources such as roads, roofing, carparks and pest plant control techniques
    • Industrial sites
    • Rainwater tanks
  • (2.7) Review statutory and non-statutory regional/city planning documents, strategies, and bylaws to determine if they appropriately manage discharges into Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour waterbodies and to ensure they are aligned with the Whaka-Ora, Healthy Harbour plan.
  • (2.8) Implement a Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour settlement storm water management plan.

Priority project

  • (3.1) Support and seek funding for a Head of the Harbour rehabilitation initiative to:
    • Protect and restore mahinga kai and native biodiversity values
    • Protect and reinstate wetlands as a natural way to control sediment
    • Demonstrate good faith proactive partnerships with landowners
    • Re-establish raupō in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour

Within three years

  • (3.3) Continue to support a ki uta ki tai re-vegetation and habitat enhancement initiative on permanently flowing streams as set out in Action 1.1, and expand this where appropriate, to capture riparian margins on all streams.
  • (3.4) Develop a landscape scale biodiversity plan to guide habitat protection, restoration, planting and pest management priorities within the catchment for mahinga kai and other species. This should include developing guidelines and education material including:
    • A landscape plan identifying existing habitat and potential connections between patches
    • Native plant biodiversity, weed control, and other appropriate planting for residential and publicly accessible land
    • Sourcing plant stocks and working with local nurseries
    • Options to improve protection of mahinga kai and native biodiversity values e.g. covenanting, customary harvest
    • Pest plant and animal species management
  • (3.5) Encourage new community led planting and pest plant management initiatives in each of Lyttelton, Rāpaki, Governors Bay, and Diamond Harbour.

Four years plus

  • (3.6) Develop a pā harakeke in an accessible location.
  • (3.7) Develop, implement and support new and existing initiatives that improve awareness of the cultural and ecological value of native biodiversity, such as:
    • Interpretation panels
    • Information leaflets
    • School resources
  • (3.8) Review support for existing community planting initiatives and pest plant management programmes and seek to support continued momentum.
  • (3.9) Ensure that appropriate management tools are in place to restore and rehabilitate priority areas for mahinga kai and native biodiversity.
  • (3.10) Contribute to making Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour predator free by 2050.
  • (3.13) Review statutory and non-statutory regional/city planning documents, strategies, and bylaws to determine if they appropriately manage biodiversity and pests in the Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour catchment and to ensure they are aligned with the Whaka-Ora, Healthy Harbour plan.

Priority project

  • (4.1) Support the implementation of a kaimoana/seafood enhancement plan for the mātaitai/protected area for seafood, in addition to any requirements of resource consents.

Priority project

  • (5.1) Complete a state of the takiwā/state of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour report that brings together all existing marine species and habitat monitoring information in order to understand the state of key kaimoana/seafood, native biodiversity and invasive marine species, by the end of the first year. This will include a whole harbour habitat map for sub-tidal/inter-tidal areas. Continue to report on the state of the takiwā/area.

Within three years

  • (5.3) Develop a prioritised list of research projects based on the findings of the state of Actions 5.1 and 5.5. to 5.11. These will improve understanding of kaimoana/seafood, native marine biodiversity, and factors affecting cultural and ecological health including:
    • The role of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour as a juvenile fish nursery
    • Patterns of bivalve distribution (specifically pipi), including the influence of hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics, recruitment and connectivity
    • Pulse versus press impacts of sediment on kaimoana/seafood
    • The most effective management mechanism(s) to rehabilitate and restore mahinga kai
    • Effects of ocean acidification
    • Upper harbour sedimentation
  • (5.4) Initiate regular monitoring of shellfish flesh for contaminants and growth rates.
  • (5.5) Develop and implement an integrated marine species and habitat monitoring programme that includes existing monitoring information and is based on the findings of Actions 5.1 and 5.5 to 5.11 and, considering the role of community monitoring.
  • (5.7) Prepare a mahinga kai and habitat map including terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and update every five years.
  • (5.18) Investigate opportunities for and support existing community led monitoring programmes.

What is being done?

Check out projects that are already contributing to fulfilling the vision of Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour

More info

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