Rare wetland birds such as matuku (bittern) and pāteke (brown teal) could soon become a feature of the Waitākere Valley eco-restoration project, Matuku Link, thanks to the work of a group of Unitec Architecture Studies students. Purchased by the Matuku Reserve Trust in November last year, the 37 hectares of native bush and wetland that make up the Matuku Link is home to a range of rare wetland species, as well as to native bats along the river and the raupo.
Working closely with Landscape Design students, a group of 20 Year 3 and 4 Architecture Studies students have come up with a range of designs for a bird hide, one or more of which the Trust hopes to construct on the reserve.
Conservationists, school groups and members of the public will be able to use the bird hide for bird observation and research. Grasses and trees have been planted to kick start the restoration of the wetland and there is already evidence that the work is helping attract some of the rare birdlife back to the area.
Five of the Unitec bird hide designs have been shortlisted by the Matuku Trust, judged by trustee and founding member John Staniland. Construction on the winning design is planned to start next year once funding has been secured.
Many of the designs use native and recycled timber cladding and have various observation windows to optimize viewing at multiple levels. One was specifically inspired by Japanese joinery, using no nails, and has adjustable openings and removable slats. Another design is based around low-slung trenches, with people looking out over the wires to observe the birds, while still remaining hidden. The students shortlisted for the bird hide design project are:
- Rhiannon Churchward and Hayley McDonald (Y3)
- Eva Jenkin (Y3)
- Vignesh Krishnamoorthy (Y4)
- William McGuire (Y3)
- Mark Mildon (Y3)
Senior lecturer Chris Murphy has overseen the project and is very proud of what his students have achieved, saying “This is a great example of a live, vertical project where students from different year groups work together for community gain. The concepts and designs they’ve produced are innovative in form and structure, while respectful to their surroundings, and we’re delighted that our students have had a hand in bringing real regeneration to this special area which generations to come will be able to enjoy.”
More on the Matuku Link is available on their Facebook page.
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