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  • View ecosystem connections with a te ao Māori perspective.

    Repo/wetlands are not discrete habitats for the plants and animals that live in them – often these species cross over with other habitats. Use this interactive to learn about six key wetland species and discover their interconnections. The activity Wetland (repo) connections – ecological and cultural perspectives explores these ideas more fully.

    To use this interactive, move your mouse or finger over any of the labelled boxes and click to obtain more information.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Background image and text are adapted from Pūniu River Care Incorporated's Safe places, healthy waters, healthy people: A guide to assist marae and hapū to build their capacity in restoration.



    Tuna (freshwater eels) spend the early part of their lives as tunatuna (glass eels) in the freshwater systems of awa and roto. Here, they grow slowly, and once they are of breeding age, they migrate to the moana (marine environment) where they meet up in the Pacific Ocean to breed and then die. Their babies float back on the ocean currents to the rivers where their parents came from and start the cycle all over again.

    Tuna image: Public domain


    Before heading to the ocean, tuna live in repo (wetland habitats) that are the strongholds of harakeke. Harakeke is also a food source for the tūī, which loves to sip away at the nectar of their flowers in spring to summer.

    Harakeke image: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato


    Karamū can be found in wetlands – especially in the swamp forests that wrap around harakeke and the sedges and rushes that occupy the water’s edge. Karamū are also found on the banks of tributaries (riparian margins) along with sedges – grass-like plants such as pūrei or pūrekireki. Karamū is a hardy and versatile plant so it can also be found amongst scrub on dry lands dominated by mānuka and kānuka.

    Karamū berry image: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato


    Kōura (freshwater crayfish) live in the water underneath the protective cover of the karamū and pūrekireki, which hangs over the stream banks. These delicate little animals are valued food sources for tuna and for people.

    Kōura image: DOC, CC BY 4.0


    In the Waikato, mānuka is found on the drier edges of peat and fen wetlands, forming an important nursery for other native plant seedlings.

    Mānuka tree: Duncan Cunningham, CC BY-NC 4.0, sourced from iNaturalistNZ


    Hovering over all of these spaces are the tūī. These birds fly across awa and roto, along coastlines and can also occupy spaces in wetlands. They are found in our cities and amongst native bush blocks along ranges and mountains.

    Tūī image: Sid Mosdell, CC BY 2.0


    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato Published 19 November 2020 Size: 1 MB Referencing Hub media
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