Te Whakaroa o ngaa repo – a fence will come between us

Department of Conservation —  01/07/2021

Watching my green pastures transform into a wetland has been a dream brought to life.

When we first purchased the property near Hamilton, I didn’t recognise that the seemingly ordinary 2,300 (sqm) of flat, pasture paddock actually held potential. Like an undiscovered gem ready to be found and polished, to become something far grander.

Once a flat, pastured paddock, transformed into Nigel’s back yard wetland. Featuring Nigel’s furry whānau – Agnes mid-wetland and Harold on the rear rise.
📷: Nigel Binks.

Through my creative process, I came to realise that I share my mother’s creative vision. She always had an astounding ability to envisage the potential for an object, often an abused and somewhat derelict old home, and breathe new purpose into it.

Like any creative work, the project has required considerable forethought and a clear vision in my mind before the planning and creation phases could begin. It took me four years, a career change and a visit to Australia to realise the potential of a self-built wetland, along with another two years to create the vision in my mind before the excavation phase began.

Nigel capturing his wetland after rainfall. Spot the rainbow!
📷: Nigel Binks.

My friend Tavita undertook the landscaping excavations in phase one. He worked hard to translate my vision and plans into reality.

He also helped me remove several old, and rather large, macrocarpa stumps from along my boundary line. These aged timber trees (felled decades ago) were installed as features and micro-habitat within the wetland. Some remain in prominent positions on dry ground, whereas others provide habitat and structure within the wetter zones of the wetland.

I have always fancied the shape of tree stump root systems, and have intentionally positioned these upside-down to take advantage of their vegetative architecture as visual features and habitat.

Stellar showing off a macrocarpa stump. Iris and Fred in the background.
📷: Nigel Binks.

Pleasingly, phase two – stock exclusion from the wetland, has been completed. A 2 meter tall deer-net fence was erected and now completely surrounds the wetland. This includes a 4 meter fringe buffer within the fence line for vehicle movement, and future access to the planting zones.

John the contractor helped me fence off an area nearby, adjacent to my existing shade-house where I grow and house native plants. This will enable me to expand my native nursery area.

In addition, he rammed posts in a prominent position in the wetland as foundations for a ‘false-maimai’ mindfulness platform (2.4 meters squared). This will be created at a later date to provide a contemplative spot to overlook the wetland area.

Iris and Fred a bit disappointed about being kicked off the job.
📷: Nigel Binks.

Now the fencing work has been completed and my farm animal whānau (cows, pigs and goats) have been excluded from the wetland (they’re very disappointed), I can begin organising phase three – site preparation and a community planting day.

To date, I have accrued about 800 native plants. From native grasses and shrubs – purei, karamu, koromiko, manuka, and harakeke. To trees – rewarewa, rimu, miro, pukatea, puriri and my favourite lowland podocarp and kahikatea.

I’ll begin moving these into a position that allows them to settle under the new environmental exposure – light, water and wind conditions.

A blank canvas for many native trees to thrive.
📷: Nigel Binks.

Phase three will begin in July. Plants will be staked in position, and wood-chip mulch will spread at their bases to deter the re-establishment of pasture plant varieties.

I have selected the 25th of July to host a community planting day. All enthusiastic friends, family, colleagues and the broader community are welcome to participate in this final stage.

The age-old kiwi tradition of putting on a BBQ and refreshments to keep everyone motivated will be observed, and participants will be most welcome to visit the wetland in the future as the plants and vision matures.

The mahi isn’t finished just yet! Captured between phase one and two.
📷: Nigel Binks.

Read all about phase one here.

5 responses to Te Whakaroa o ngaa repo – a fence will come between us

    Harry Young 04/07/2021 at 1:04 pm

    Although I’m in Auckland, I’d like to help plant on 25 July. What are the details?


    Nice work. I like the concept of converting stump to sculpture – they definitely add a nice point of difference.


    Fantastic mahi to date. It’s going to be superb. Good luck with the planting day.

    Kelly Le Quesne 01/07/2021 at 7:38 pm

    Amazing! Great work on completely these phases. I look forward to seeing the plants put in place 🌱 also love the use of the old stumps to make some features and micro habitats for your wetland 😁