Shed Talk supports engagement, education, and environmental understanding

A recent Shed Talk event in the Waimakariri zone was well attended, with presentations on mahinga kai, biodiversity and new regulations within the rural sector.

Friday 19 November saw around 50 industry professionals, farmers, community members and more gather at the Cust Community Centre to hear presentations from our Pou Mātai Kō / cultural land management advisor Makarini Rupene, biodiversity officer Zipporah Ploeg, and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited Project Manager Paul Reese.

With not a cloud in the sky, it was ideal weather to follow-up the kōrero with a visit to a local wetland, to see some mahinga kai and biodiversity values in action.

The Shed Talk was organised by the Waimakariri zone delivery team, Fonterra, Waimakariri Irrigation Limited, and Waimakariri Landcare Trust.

Event appeals to all ages

Elise Whitwell Oxford Area School student attended the Shed Talk

Elise Whitwell Oxford Area School student attended the Shed Talk.

Oxford Area School agricultural student Elise Whitwell was in attendance on the day and found the presentations interesting.

“I really enjoyed hearing about the history of Ngāi Tahu in Canterbury and learning about the different kinds of environments that exist in the Waimakariri District,” she said.

“Visiting the farm and seeing the wetland was also really cool,” she said.

“It makes me think about what I might want to do when I leave school. I thought I wanted to go into something to do with soil, but maybe biodiversity could be an option,” she said.

Mum Sally, said it’s great to be able to share different points of views, and for young people to have learning opportunities outside of the classroom.

“It worked out well really. It’s a topic that she’s interested in and agriculture is her first exam this year at school, so she got a bit of outside study done.”

Cultural past, present and future shared with group

Paul Reese, Zipporah Ploeg and Makarini Rupene all presented at the Shed Talk

Paul Reese, Zipporah Ploeg and Makarini Rupene all presented at the Shed Talk.

Makarini Rupene, our Pou Mātai Kō for North Canterbury, started the day off with a brief introduction to Ngai Tāhu history in Canterbury and provided some context for working as one into the future.

He described mahinga kai as a relationship to the natural environment, with a focus on local iwi and mana whenua mahinga kai values.

“It was really great to share some of the background to how Māori used to work the land for kai, travel the region, and some of the more specific Waimakariri sites that used to be major trading posts for early Māori,” he said,

“I’m really lucky to be able to help the community and industry understand that mahinga kai isn’t too different to how many people think about farming now – working the land, providing for our whānau and protecting all the things that exist in our environment.”

Biodiversity overview shows locals how and what exists in Waimakariri

Our biodiversity officer Zipporah Ploeg followed with an overview of the different plant and animal communities that are unique to the Waimakariri zone.

“Even though it may not look pretty, dry paddocks with tūmatakuru / matagouri or kānuka popping up are indicative of a healthy dryland environment,” she said.

“These plants provide food and habitat for some pretty special insect species such as the endangered matagouri moth (Acroclita discariana).”

“There’s a range of wetland habitat across Waimakariri zone too – both swampy, high-nutrient wetlands; and also low-nutrient wetlands with sphagnum moss and sundew and bladderworts – the only two species of carnivorous plants in New Zealand.

“That’s pretty special for Waimakariri I think,” Ploeg said.

Local wetland met with awe

The group then travelled to a nearby wetland, which has been left in its natural state for as long as the owners can remember. The farm has been in the family since 1961.

Springvale wetland is around 12.5 hectares. It’s located at the bottom of some terraces on Ken and Shirley Robinson’s sheep, crop, and dairy support property.

The wetland is considered an asset to the farm, and the wider catchment. It’s dominated by flax / harakeke, cabbage trees / tī kōuka, native sedges, and a wide variety of indigenous / native shrub, herb, and fern species.

The Robinson’s have received staff support and biodiversity funding for weed control work on the willows.

“Willows have invaded the site and formed a continuous canopy over parts of the wetland,” Ploeg said.

“By controlling the weeds now, the wetland values can be protected and able to recover.

“Because the site has been allowed to remain in its natural state, it’s an exceptional example of what’s possible in the zone.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to the Robinson’s for allowing the group to visit their precious wetland and admire what’s possible,” she said.  

Springvale wetland

Springvale wetland has been left to it's natural state, aside from some weed control

Springvale wetland

Located at the bottom of some terraces, Springvale wetland shows what's possible with wetland protection.

Find out more

If you’d like advice, support, or assistance for identifying potential biodiversity projects on your property, get in touch with your local zone delivery team. You can find your team at or email