Jeremy Painting knows the value of Te Atatu's wetlands better than most.
The Forest & Bird volunteer has spent the past year trapping pests, bird-watching and tramping in the area.
This knowledge has helped him guide Te Atatu Labour MP Phil Twyford through Harbourview Reserve during the MP's 50 kilometre kayak tour of the Waitemata Harbour this week.
Mr Painting stressed the importance of keeping Harbourview Reserve pest-free to Mr Twyford.
He says the area is home to a number of endangered bird species, such as the fernbird and banded rail, however, it is not protected or given park status.
"The area is becoming more ecologically important. There is phenomenal plant life here as well," Mr Painting says.
"I would suggest it is one of the best pieces of wetlands in Auckland, especially given it's right on the edge of the city."
He has spent the past year setting up DOC 200 traps to catch pests including ferrets, stoats and the large number of rats.
Educating residents about dog control and creating pest eradication programmes are steps that need to be taken to protect the area, he says.
Harbourview Reserve was the first stop on Mr Twyford's four-day kayak tour designed to draw attention to marine conservation issues throughout the region.
Environmental issues in West Auckland have featured strongly over the week with Mr Twyford also visiting Motu Manawa Marine Reserve and Pollen Island.
Mr Twyford says he wants to raise awareness of the work that needs to be done to stop further pollution and invasive species.
"Science tells us that the harbour and the Hauraki Gulf are under pressure because of the effects of urban development.
"If we're going to develop good policy, we need to really understand the science behind what's impacting these ecological treasures."
Although having to paddle through a mini-cyclone, Mr Twyford says experiencing the marine life up close reminded him of the importance of protecting the harbour. "I want my grandchildren and their children to be able to catch fish and swim in the harbour."
He also praised the "great tradition out west" where many residents are getting involved in urban-environmental projects.
Mr Twyford finishes the kayak tour later today.
- Western Leader
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