Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park

Name of case study

Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park


 Kirikiriroa Hamilton, Aotearoa New Zealand




Urban/landscape scale

Area / size

60 hectares

NbS employed

Revegetation / renaturing

Type of NbS

Ecosystem restoration


Hamilton City Council


Hamilton City Council (Operational funding)



Design group

Hamilton City Council, The University of Waikato, Waikato Institute of Technology, Tui 2000, and Nga Mana Toopu O Kirikiriroa.

Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park before, 2004. Photo by NZPCN. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/conservation/restoration/ecological-restoration/case-studies/waiwhakareke/
Climate change benefits
  • Biomass cover loss 
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Increased pests or spread of weeds
  • Increased temperatures
  • Reduced air quality
  • Reduced soil quality
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • Climate change adaptation
Ecological benefits
  • Biological control
  • Climate regulation
  • Habitat provision
  • Species maintenance
Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. Photo by Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park Facebook
Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. Photo by Trees That Count

Summary of case study

The creation of the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park was driven by a vision to establish a self-sustaining habitat sanctuary that represents the original ecosystem diversity of the Hamilton basin (Corkill, 2012). Historically, the land, under Pākehā ownership, suffered from agricultural degradation and was predominantly covered by introduced willow trees, contributing to soil quality deterioration (Corkill, 2012). Through revegetation efforts, the park now boasts four distinctive vegetated areas, including kauri-tanekaha-rewarewa-conifer-broadleaved forest, tawa-rimu -broadleaved-podocarp forest, kahikatea-pukatea-semi-swamp forest, and a peat lake margin and swamp wetland, representing the original flora diversity of the region (Duggan, 2012). With almost half of the park now planted, it has already developed into the largest patch of indigenous vegetation in Hamilton City. 

This revegetation initiative has yielded social, economic, and ecological benefits, facilitating educational and recreational opportunities within the park (Corkill, 2012). By significantly increasing biomass cover, the park enhances climate change adaptation and biodiversity, while engaging the public in environmental education initiatives like Arbor Day (Corkill, 2012). Furthermore, the park promotes active lifestyles, reducing carbon emissions by integrating bike paths into the broader Hamilton network.

Mitigation efforts are bolstered by land improvement through planting zones and wetland restoration, offering carbon storage capabilities and climate regulation, along with improvements in water, soil, and air quality (Corkill, 2012). 

The area holds significance for local iwi, serving as a pathway between Waipa and Waikato rivers and a route to stone resources for Māori, highlighting the cultural importance of reverting the land to its original vegetated state (Corkill, 2012).

While a cost-benefit assessment is pending due to the early stage of the revegetation project, the project promises economic, social, and ecological value. As the areas become self-sustaining, limited maintenance will be required, potentially transforming the park into a lucrative tourist destination (Corkill, 2012).

Read More
Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. Photo by Trees That Count
  • Corkill, A. (2012). Community recreation and ecosystem reconstruction at Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. Australasian Parks and Leisure15(3), 46-47.
  • Duggan, I. C. (2012). Urban planning provides potential for lake restoration through catchment re-vegetation. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening11(1), 95-99.
  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. n.d. Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/conservation/restoration/ecological-restoration/case-studies/waiwhakareke/, Accessed 16 May 2024.

Further resources:

<< Revegetation / renaturing