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  • Phoebe Robertson

First Photograph of Elusive Mātātā Captured in Wellington Wetland


In a landmark achievement, the elusive mātātā, or fern bird, has been photographed for the first time in Taupō Swamp, near Plimmerton. This marks a significant milestone for restoration efforts in the wetland.

Endemic to Aotearoa, the mātātā is classed as 'at risk—declining' by the Department of Conservation due to habitat loss and predation. The sighting, celebrated by Judy McKoy, Chair of Friends of Taupō Swamp & Catchment (FOTSC), reflects years of dedicated conservation work.

“Rare and wonderful species are returning to the Taupō Swamp; some, like the mātātā, are now being photographed by people visiting and working in the wetlands," says McKoy.

Greater Wellington’s Senior Biodiversity Advisor, Jo Fagan, emphasised the importance of this sighting, noting that the presence of mātātā signifies a healthy wetland ecosystem. The recent survey documented nine mātātā between October and December 2023, the first official record in the area.

Supported by Greater Wellington and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira through the Community Environment Fund, FOTSC’s efforts continue to revitalise the wetland, ensuring it remains a home for native species.


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