Ecology and landscapes

We’re working to identify and protect important landscapes and significant natural areas in our beautiful city.

Porirua City is recognised for its coastal environment, iconic landscapes, and areas of significant biodiversity. These collectively give Porirua its identity and contribute to the overall health of Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour.

We’re working with ecologists, landscape specialists and landowners to identify these important sites. The District Plan is being reviewed and through this process we’ll be considering how to best look after these areas.

If a property is part of a landscape or significant natural area it may affect what sort of activities and land uses can take place.

We want to work with the community to create a planning framework that allows for people to be able to undertake reasonable maintenance and improvement on their property, while preserving important values.

There will also be a range of incentives and support to assist landowners look after these valuable assets.

The loss of indigenous vegetation in Porirua is typical of that seen throughout the country. Porirua was once dominated by kohekohe-tawa forest, with areas of flax and salt marsh. Extensive clearance of this vegetation in the mid and late 1800s for timber and farming, and more recently for expanding urban settlements, has left the city with only scattered remnants of this former cover. 

There has been a history of engagement relating to significant natural areas which dates back to 2001. In 2012, engagement on significant urban vegetation was undertaken.

Since then, Greater Wellington Regional Council has set criteria through the 2013 Regional Policy Statement that we must follow to identify these areas and the species within them. This includes factors such as whether rare or threatened species are present, or whether the areas enhance connectivity between ecosystems for example. 

Wildlands Ecological Consultants undertook a reassessment of sites identified in earlier studies from November 2017 to January 2018. From this there have been 222 potential significant natural areas identified in Porirua and letters have been sent to directly affected landowners.

We conducted a large number of site visits around Porirua between June and December 2018 with our ecologists at the request of landowners. This was important to ensure that the mapping and assessment of these areas is as up to date and accurate as possible. Changes to some of the mapping have been made based on these site visits. You can view these amendments in our online map (link below).  

For more detailed information on this topic, please view the significant natural areas FAQ webpage or the Wildlands (2018) Draft Assessment of Ecological Site Significance in Porirua City – Methodology

Outstanding natural features are landforms that are defined as exceptional or out of the ordinary. They have a range of qualities that make a place visually appealing, including physical features such as indigenous vegetation, natural watercourses and natural landforms, as well as historic associations with a place.

Special amenity landscapes are highly valued landscapes in areas modified by human activity.

Boffa Miskell have been engaged to update the landscape assessment they undertook in 2013 for the Landscape Management Strategy. They have identified five “outstanding natural features” including: Whitireia Peninsula, Mana Island, Taupo Swamp, and Te Rewarewa and Paekakariki escarpments.

The have identified seven special amenity landscapes including Wairaka, Kakaho, Pāuatahanui, Belmont Hills, Cannons Creek Ridge, Rangituhi/Takapūwāhia, and Rukutane/Titahi Bay.

For more detailed information on this topic, please view the landscapes FAQ webpage, the Boffa Miskell (2018) Porirua Landscape Evaluation: Draft Technical Assessment or the Isthmus (2019) Draft Porirua Landscape Evaluation

Porirua has a number of notable trees, valued for the historic heritage, ecological and visual values they provide.

There is a standard methodology for evaluating these trees known as STEM or Standard Tree Evaluation Method.

We have identified a number of trees to evaluate under this criteria, but we would welcome community nominations for trees in your neighbourhood which you think have very high historic, ecological and amenity values.

We are intending to engage an arborist to evaluate all council and community nominated trees to see whether they warrant protection in the District Plan. These could be on either public or private land.

If you would like to nominate a notable tree please email us at

For more detailed information on this topic, please view the notable trees FAQ webpage.

Identifying and protecting Porirua’s landscapes and significant natural areas is part of the Council’s obligations under the Resource Management Act and the Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington Region.

The Resource Management Act lists the protection of “outstanding natural features and landscapes” and “areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna” as a matters of national importance.

The Regional Policy Statement requires us to identify and protect indigenous ecosystems and habitats in our district plan (policies 23 & 24). It also requires us to assess landscapes and manage them based on their value (policies 25 to 28).

There is no specific requirement to protect notable trees, but the feedback from the Make Your Mark consultation indicated a desire to protect trees. This mechanism is needed as the ability to have blanket tree protection rules in urban areas was removed from the Resource Management Act in 2013 (i.e. cannot have a blanket rule such as “all native trees over 5m high”).

Council has a responsibility under the Resource Management Act to look after historic heritage, ecological, and amenity values. Retaining notable trees provides the city with all three of these values.

We have contacted property owners with potentially significant sites on their land.

Enquiries can be made to ecologyandlandscapes@poriruacity.govt.nzor call us on 04 237 5089.

Map of affected areas

Our priority to date has been ensuring the mapping and assessment of identified landscapes and significant natural areas are as accurate as possible. Below is link to a map of identified landscapes and significant natural areas. Here you can view the draft significant natural areas, special amenity landscapes and outstanding natural features identified in Porirua. You are also able to search for a specific addresses or lot numbers. The mapping of significant natural areas has been updated based on site visits and the reassessment of some areas. 

To view the online map of ecology and landscapes areas click here

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch please email us at