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The animals and plants of Tōtaranui need your help now!

What is the Tōtara for Tōtaranui Project

The Tōtara for Tōtaranui project was established to provide an independent organisational structure to deliver the communities desire to conserve the Marlborough Sounds by protecting, restoring, and enhancing the land and the ocean for future generations and educating people why this is important.

It is a transformational project as it looks at the ecosystem as a whole, “from the sky to the ocean” and recognises its importance in supporting plant and animal life. Project decisions are based on good quality information, so we need to work together to ensure that the information that is collected can be applied and action taken rather than just solely adding to our knowledge of the systems or worse becoming documents that no one reads.

By coordinating actions, work can be achieved more efficiently and therefore cost effectively on a scale that will make a different to the plants and animals of the Marlborough Sounds.

It will take time, effort and investment to achieve and by working together we can achieve more than we can on our own.

How can we help

By assessing the current baseline condition of each water catchment, we can structure work packages around practical solutions to improve the water quality and temperature, nutrient levels, turbidity, and other factors that affect the biodiversity and ecology of streams, rivers, and the ocean. The resultant integrated catchment management plans provide a comprehensive list of activities and actions.

Each catchment is unique and will require specific actions.

Actions typically include:

  • Catchment condition assessments.
  • Native plantings.
  • Riparian plantings.
  • Weed control programme.
  • Fencing wetlands and riparian areas.
  • Predator control.
  • Installing sediment traps.
  • Clearing streams of debris.
  • How Landowners can help

    Support the project

  • By registering your land with the project we are then able to look to include your land in work programmes funded through our various sponsors.
  • Support the establishment of the Tūpoupou Marine Protected Area.
  • Undertake weed control on your property.
  • Undertake predator control on your property.
  • Protect the forest by installing ungulate (pig, goat, deer) proof fences.
  • Talk to your neighbours, friends and family about why the project is so important.
  • Donate or become a sponsor.
  • Plantation forestry owners

      Do you know the environmental impact that clear felling the forest can have?
      The below table is a real life example from the Marlborough Sounds and highlights that the local soils types are susceptible to erosion.

    Comparison Of The Suspended Sediment In Two Adjacent Streams

    Forestry block that had been clear felled

    Forestry block not felled

    Parts per million (ppm)
    Parts per million (ppm)

    Why this is important

      Excessive sedimentation is washed into streams and deposited on the estuary seafloor killing or displacing life.
      Fine sediments increase the turbidity and reduce light transmission in the water column and thereby affect photosynthesis; change biogeochemical gradients and cause negative effects to benthic microalgae; clog fish gills and the feeding parts of sediment-dwelling filter-feeders; and cause chronic effects on macrofauna physiological condition and behaviour.
      The reality of forestry in the Marlborough Sounds is that often it is simply not economic to actually harvest the trees due to the remote nature and difficulty of transport. Then you add in the huge environmental cost.

    Tōtara for Tōtaranui Projects

    In 2021 our protection focus is on the establishment of the Tūpoupou Marine Protected Area with the aim of protecting the breeding and birthing bays of the endangered Hector’s Dolphin / Tūpoupou on the west coast of Arapaoa Island. The area is also one of the feeding grounds for the endangered King Shag / Kawau a toru. Both local species are endangered and need immediate help, before it is too late, and they become extinct. The Tūpoupou Marine Protected Area project is an essential part of protecting both species

    Our other protection work focuses on predator control to reduce the number of introduced species which either hunt or graze our native species. By protecting the islands of Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui from predators this also means that other endangered species like the Rowi Kiwi, South Island Saddleback / Tīeke, New Zealand Parakeet / Kākāriki and Little Penguins / Kororā have a safe place to live. This will be extended to mainland peninsulas and strategic locations over time.

    Our restoration work focuses on native and riparian planting to bring back the native species which were destroyed over time and the control of weed species including wilding conifers which compete with the native species. In Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui there used to be many large Tōtara trees hence the areas name. The project is named in the trees honour as it is a reminder that these once abundant trees could live for a thousand years and is a symbol of our restoration work. To achieve a healthy and abundant forest we need to plant a variety of native trees, plants and shrubs that provide nectar, seeds, and berries all year-round so the animals always have food available to them.

    We need to enhance the environment for future generations. These special projects build on the restoration work and provide a platform for innovation. They foster and encourage collaboration between the community, researchers and industry thereby transferring knowledge and techniques for the benefit of the environment.

    A great example is the seagrass restoration project that we are starting. Seagrasses occupy only 0.1% of the seafloor yet are responsible for 12% of the organic carbon buried in the ocean. Seagrass meadows are under stress globally, so we aim to do our part to bring them back and help raise the profile of this issue.

    The project also supports wildlife restoration, for example, providing boat transport for translocating birds to predator free islands as part of Operation Nest Egg for the Kiwi or other species such as the endangered New Zealand Parakeet / Kākāriki or South Island Saddleback / Tīeke.

    Education is crucially important and is one of our most important foundations. We need to explain to people why these issues are important so they will support the actions and change behaviour. By bringing all the work together we are able to offer environmental education from our trained staff. Or we can facilitate learning programmes through our links to partners and research institutes, such as championing citizen science programmes where scientists and the community can work together. The project advocates for a coordinated approach to research and monitoring to provide an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems in Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui.

    Our website has a dedicated section on education covering all ages. We aim to continue to add to the educational resources with a dedicated Educator on staff. We provide practical learning opportunities where students can get out in the field with trained staff to examine and study the Marlborough Sounds.

    We can choose what we want for the future.

    We want to  protect, restore, enhance and educate.

    Further information



        Wilding Pines

          Native Planting



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              The animals and plants of Tōtaranui need your help now!