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Region’s wetlands on a virtual tour

A virtual reality [VR] experience of Wairarapa’s wetlands is on offer at the region’s libraries this week.

The display includes five of Wairarapa’s wetlands, which residents will be able to view through a virtual tour using a VR headset and experience how the wetlands change from spring to winter.

This VR resource was developed as part of the “Wairarapa Glistening Water” project, led by researchers at the SpatialThink Lab at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington and Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.

Victoria University project co-leader Mairéad de Róiste said more than 90 per cent of New Zealand’s wetlands have been lost.

“Repo [wetlands] are really important environments that help improve water quality and provide flood protection,” de Róiste said.

“We hope this project will foster understanding of wetlands’ role in the rich ecological and cultural tapestry of Wairarapa.

“The Wairarapa Glistening Water project blends matauranga Māori, indigenous science, and Western science with the aim of increasing understanding of wetlands’ natural and cultural significance.”

The project was co-lead by Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa environment manager Ra Smith, who also narrates indigenous stories about the repo [wetland] that feature on the project’s website and highlight the connection between tangata [people] and whenua [land].

When visiting the wetlands, Smith said he can really feel this ‘marriage’.

“When I stand in the middle of our wetlands under the canopy of trees, beside our tallest native tree the kahikatea, and look past the harakeke to the wetlands and open water, I listen to birds and the rhythm of the water,” Smith said.

“The life within tangata connecting to the life within the whenua.”

The website also features interviews with kaumātua and others from Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, as well as interactive maps, and education resources for schools.

The project was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Vision Mātauranga fund and Te Herenga Waka’s Mātauranga Māori Research Fund.

More information can be found at wairarapaglistening

Drop-in sessions
are being held at:

Carterton Library, Wednesday, 13 December, 12-4:30 pm

Featherston Library, Thursday, 14 December, 12-4:30 pm

Greytown Library, Friday, 15 December, 12-4:30 pm

Martinborough Library, Saturday, 16 December, 9:30am-12 noon.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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