Tui to Town

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Tui to Town

The Tui to Town project promotes natural habitat restoration for lowland areas of South Marlborough where there is very little natural vegetation cover left and also encourages the public to report sightings of native birds so that more information can be collected about which birds species are present, what they feed on, seasonal movements and so on.

The project was established in 2008 with a focus on the Wairau Plain area near Blenheim to start with. It has now been extended to include further up the Wairau Valley and south-east to the areas around the townships of Seddon and Ward (see link to map below). The boundary of the project area is aligned with land identified nationally by the Ministry for the Environment as 'threatened land environments' where less than 10% of the land area is still in native vegetation and therefore a priority for protection and restoration. In reality, the Tui to Town area has only 1% to 2% of land area in native vegetation and therefore very little habitat for native birds and insects.

Tui to Town logo.

Protection of existing areas of native vegetation and the planting of new areas will help provide stepping stones of habitat for native birds. Whether it’s a few suitable plants in the garden or larger plantings which Council may be able to help fund, together they will help to create habitat for native birds and insects. Experience since 2008 has shown that some of the new plantings were being visited by tui and other native birds after three to four years.

In addition to promoting new native plantings the Tui to Town project also encourages the reporting of native bird sightings by the public to help build a better picture of what birds species are present, food sources and behaviours. A database has been set up to collect this information and has been expanded from a focus on tui sightings to a wide range of native birds which might be seen in the new expanded project area.

Native bird sightings

Report native bird sightings to Council to help improve our knowledge of what species are present:

Phone: 03 520 7400


Go to iNaturalist to share your sightings with others

Plant stepping stones of native habitat

New native plantings of suitable species will create habitat for native birds and insects. Some exotic species can also provide food sources, notably winter flowering eucalyptus species that provide nectar and pollen at critical times of the year.

Funding assistance is available for native plantings on private land that are a minimum of 1000 square metres in area. Since 2008, about 35 of these areas have been funded on the Wairau Plain though the Tui to Town project.

Funding guidelines with details on how to apply and a map showing the eligible area are available below.

Native planting guides (simple and comprehensive are available below).

Planting guides

There are several planting guides relevant to the Wairau Plain area. The following list is the recommended species list for Tui to Town planting projects as it includes a diverse mix of easily available and easy to grow native species suitable for this area.

Suitable Tui to Town native plant species

Smaller trees and shrubs (1 to 5 m) Trees (tall 5 to 20 m)
Flax species Phormium tenax, P. cookianumBroadleaf Griselinia littoralis
Coprosma species Coprosma propinqua C. robusta, C. lucida, C. repens Cabbage tree Cordyline australis
Koromiko Hebe salicifoliaKᾱnuka Kunzea ericoides
Coastal shrub daisy Olearia solandriKahikatea Dacrycarpus dacrydioides
Kōwhai species Sophora prostrata, S. micropyhlla Lowland ribbonwood Plagianthus regius
Lancewood species Pseudopanax crassifolius, P. ferox Narrow-leaved lacebark Hoheria angustifolia
Shrubby tororaro Muehlenbeckia astoniiPittosporum species Pittosporum tenufolium
P. eugenioides
Toetoe Cortaderia richardiiTōtora Podocarpus totara

The following guides may also provide some ideas:

Go to Native Vegetation for South Marlborough - A Planting Guide 2004

Suitable Tui to Town exotic plant species

Smaller trees and shrubs (1 to 5 m) Trees (tall 5 to 20 m)

Eucalyptus species

Eucalyptus leucoxylon, ficfolia, melliodra, sideroxylon and globoidea

Coast banksia

Banksia integrifolia


Calistemon species


Camellia species

Tree lucerne

Chamaecytisus palmensis


Feijoa sellowiana

Red hot poker

Kniphofia uvaria


Telopea species

Garden fuchsia

Fuchsia magellanica

  • Tui Facts

    Tui are endemic to New Zealand (found nowhere else in the world).