Waipahi Wetlands officially opened

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New beginnings . . . Celebrating the opening of the Waipahi Wetlands with planting a new tree on site was (from left) Otago Regional Council chairman Andrew, farmland owner Gerard Vallely, Pomahaka Water Care Groupchairman Simon O’Meara, and project manager Shane Bocock. PHOTO: VALU MAKA

An idea first discussed about six years ago has taken shape with the establishment of the Waipahi Wetlands.

Farmland owners Gerard and Ann Vallely set aside 9ha of their land for the water catchment site.

An official ceremony to mark the opening of the wetlands project was held at the reserve last Friday .

Mr Vallely said the couple wanted to restore the site to its natural state and they were proud of how the project had turned out.

“We would like to see what it looks like 20 years from now,” Mr Vallely said.

The gathering was attended by representatives from the Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Landcare Trust, Otago Regional Council, Pomahaka Water Care group, Clutha Southland MP Joseph Mooney, as well as volunteers and locals.

Project manager Shane Bocock said the ceremony went well.

“We are pleased with the way it turned out especially with the threatening weather, but we had a good turnout.”

It was “unique” for private land owners to allow public access on to their farm, he said.

“It will be a great way to educate others about the environment.”

Ministry for Primary Industries extension services lead Janet Gregory said it was great to have a water catchment which was community-led.

“Seeing the people who have turned up today is a reflection of the community support which has gone into this project.”

MPI gave funds of $170,000 to the Pomahaka Water Care Group to share among two of the wetlands restoration projects.

The wetlands would be a huge opportunity for members of the public, she said.

“It will be a place where people can visit, go for a picnic or a walk.”

Avis Fenton, of Tapanui, was among those who visited the site.

“It is an interesting place and you can see there has been hours and hours of work put into the project.

“The benefits of the Waipahi wetlands is it will filter the water which feeds into the Waipahi River and it is a site which will be here for forever.”

The new Waipahi Wetlands is 2km off State Highway 1, near Waipahi.