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Trip Reports


2019.05.18 PKSnorkelDay LD 03315

Experiencing Marine Reserves runs events from the Far North to Otago. Our trip reports showcase the highlights of each trip from the perspective of our volunteers. 


2020.06.13-14 Motu Manawa Kayak Days

Brittle star

Motu Manawa Trip Report

Saturday-Sunday 13-14th of June 2020
Written by Ngaio Balfour

Images from the day


Facebook | Google Photos


Facebook | Google Photos


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Kayaking in motu manawa marine reserve

The kayak event was a spectacular meandering paddle through the mangroves of Motu Manawa marine reserve.

The EMR crew, Sophie and Lorna, welcomed me back as a volunteer; thank you level one! Soon the Auckland Sea Kayaks crew arrived, and we settled into preparing for the day. We greeted the participants with karakia and kayak team ran through a safety and paddle skills briefing. The late morning sun found us; we were ready. I was thrilled when Sophie and Lorna offered me the chance to paddle as support.

Working as a team, we launched and kayaked out into the blue of the bay, heading for the bridge by the motorway. As we came into the calm of the mangrove estuary, we rafted up, and Sophie shared her knowledge of the reserve ecosystem.

The Motu Manawa marine reserve, established in 1995 protects approximately 500 hectares on the inner Waitematā harbour. The reserve holds a diversity of habitats, including intertidal mudflats, tidal channels, mangrove (manawa) swamp, saltmarsh and shell banks. The vast spread of the muddy benthic (bottom) houses critters. These creatures provide the food for wading birds, who’s tidal commute from land to sea cycles vital nutrients. Then there is the mātātā (fern bird) who nests in the scrub of Pollen Island, a stretch of land lying to our left and the only remaining mainland habitat in which the fern bird persisted. Land clearance and predation has exiled the bird from the expanse of mainland coastline which it would have called home…. And I mustn’t forget the manawa! Often overlooked, these brilliant trees are the nurseries for our native fish, the resting place of birds, the filterers of water and air and the protectors of our foreshore from coastal erosion.

With the sun on our backs, we paddle back, guided by Sophie and the Auckland Sea Kayak team and the brilliant blue of a flying kotare (kingfisher). Beneath the bridge, we meet the barnacles, busy filtering. Into the sun, the shags dip the heads in greeting and reaching the shoreline; the oyster catches prod the exposed mud for a morning much on crunchy crustaceans. Looking back to pollen Island, the mātātā nests - just out of sight and native fish attend their muddy manawa school.
At the beach, we bin a crisp packet found floating in the estuary and look back into the blue, reflecting…

Whakamana te maunga
Whakamana te wai
He mauri o ngā tangata
Ngā mea katoa he pai
Haumi e Hui e Taiki e

If we look after the water,

from the mountains to the sea,
it will look after us.
It is our life force.

We gather, participants and volunteers of all ages and skills, safe and salty. We smile away, happy for the Kayak Day.


Thank you so much EMR crew and fellow volunteers for running another fantastic event.

Thank you Auckland Sea Kayaks for your expertise and support.

Thank you Albert Eden Local Board and The Bobby Stafford-bush Foundation for funding the event.

Thank you to Motu Manawa marine reserve, for everything you do for Ranginui, Papatūānuku and the web of life on which we and our friendly fellow beings depend.

And thank you participants for your brilliant smiles and enthusiasm throughout the day!


-- Written by Ngaio Balfour

In the bladder kelp Nic Marshall

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