Motu Manawa Restoration

Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) is one of Auckland’s few large inner city estuarine areas.  Situated in the Waterview Bay of Waitemata Harbour, it has been a wetland and shellbank habitat since the last ice age

From 1880s till the 1950s over 90% of Auckland’s wetlands were drained, so this tidal area is prized by wetland birds. It is one of the few significant wetland bird feeding & breeding grounds in the Waitemata Harbour. For over 50 years, Waterview Bay behind Motu Manawa suffered from sewage overflows, but after Forest & Bird got a marine reserve established in 2005, Auckland City Council was forced to clean up this area. Now, we are actively working to ensure the two islands within the marine reserve (Traherne and Pollen Island) are pest-free and weed-free so that native flora and fauna can flourish again.

See the Forest & Bird Motu Manawa Restoration Group page.

Motu Manawa: Sewage-free, pest-free, weed-free.

Since 2005, Forest & Bird has undertaken pest-busting and weed-banishing activities to ensure the native plants (harakeke, manuka, karamu, mapou, karo) and animals can thrive.

Currently the islands are accessible by kayak at high tide or on foot at low tide however ultimately we would like to improve public access by creating a safe bird-walk using a marked trial.

We are also conducting field studies to discover what other plants, animals and reptiles live on and around these islands and surrounding lands.

These are some of the locals that we do know reside withing the marine reserve.


These bendy-beaked birds come up from our South Island rivers during the winter to snack on some of the grub under the sand flats.


These international travellers come to Motu Manawa during the summer to fatten up before their long trip back to Alaska. As the tide comes in they fly over Avondale to the Manukau Harbour.

White-faced heron 

You will often see these birds standing motionless in the water waiting to catch small fish that hazard their way. In shallow water they’ll walk into the current so that the sediment it disturbs does not cloud its view. These herons rest in tall trees around the harbour.  


This endemic wetland warbler is struggling to eke out an existence due to shrinking habitat. Fernbirds love the rush and shrub vegetation around wetlands, where their favourite food – spiders are plentiful. These shrubby areas have few predators, but people want to ‘tidy’ these areas up – poor fernbirds!.

Banded Rail 

These chicken –sized birds can be seen feeding on the crabs and worms that lie beneath the mud.
They feed in among the mangroves and rushes at low tide, and retreat into rushes or up into the mangroves at high tide

Mud snail 

These air-breathing snails are only active when the tide is out, and will dig themselves a wee hole and rest-up when it’s in. They feed on the thin film of algae on the mud.