Maketū Ōngātoro Wetland Society (MOWS) was established in 2008 when a small group of local villagers got together to do something to protect the colony of New Zealand dotterel (Charadrius obscurus) which live on the distal end of Maketū Spit. 

Since then MOWS has expanded and now the Society aims to conserve, protect and restore the native biodiversity of coastal and wetland areas surrounding the Maketū and Waihi Estuaries. Our focal area extends from the lower Kaituna river to the Waihi Estuary Wildlife Management Reserve, and encompasses Maketū Spit, Newdick’s Beach, Dotterel Point Pukehina, Te Huauri o Te Kawa, and Waihī Wetland.

Check out our Meet the Team page to find out more about our core members.

MOWS is comprised of three branches:

Biosecurity and Restoration

We have a team of full-time employees and sub-contractors that carries out the Environmental Programme work and biodiversity monitoring at our focal areas, as well as several temporary ecological contracts in the area and beyond. Volunteers occasionally assist with conservation efforts when needed.

Education Programme

Our successful program is run by our education team comprised of employees, sub-contractors and volunteers to deliver a range of ecology and conservation related topics to local schools.

See here for more information about our education programme.

Support Team

We are fortunate enough to have an amazing team of committee members and volunteers who continue to guide the efforts of MOWS and assist with events and working bees.

See our Meet the Team page to find out more about our core members.

Our Objectives

1 – Protecting, monitoring and ensuring the breeding success of New Zealand dotterel, red-billed gull, black-billed gull and other native species on Maketū Spit 

2 – Protecting, monitoring and ensuring the breeding success of NZ dotterel and variable oystercatcher on Dotterel Point Pukehina 

3 – Protecting and monitoring populations of migrant arctic and NZ shore birds that use both estuaries, notably bar-tailed godwit, red knot, pacific golden plover, banded dotterel and royal spoonbill 

4 – Enhancing and improving visitor experience and sustainability of Newdick’s Beach and Okurei Point, Maketū by helping the natural beach building processes to develop and by removing alien weed species and planting natives 

5 – Restoring the natural biodiversity of the Waihi Harbour Wildlife Management Reserve with particular reference to the critically endangered Australasian bittern er mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

6 – Developing, organizing and executing a comprehensive pest and alien plant control program for our areas of interest 

7 – Establishing a comprehensive survey of the ecology of the region together with ongoing monitoring 

8 – Expanding our education programme to include six local primary schools, Te Puke Intermediate School and Te Puke High School 

9 – Working with other local community groups to establish Bay Conservation Alliance with the intent of supporting, expanding and ensuring the sustainability of our conservation and restoration work 

10 – Developing our science and monitoring programme to make best use of the data that we collect as a tool for developing improved management plants in the future 


We also run a very successful education program in the local schools covering a range of ecology and conservation related topics. Our education team run sessions in the classroom, as well as taking the pupils on field trips to give them the chance to be a part of conservation in action in their local area.

The program began in 2015 with Te Kura o Maketū, and has now grown to include Paengaroa School, Te Puke Primary, Te Puke Intermediate, as well as sessions at Pongakawa School.

Our aim is to get our program into as many schools as possible, to give all local children the chance to see how wonderful and vital our native biodiversity is. 

See here to learn more about our education program.


We can often be found at local conservation related events, normally with our fascinating and ever-growing collection of taxidermy animals!

Going to these types of events gives us a chance to meet new people, and spread the word about the work we do.

We also run regular working bees, normally through the winter months. Check out our Events page to see what we have coming up. We hope to see you there! 


We carry out a range of regular scientific monitoring activities such as  invertebrate and reptile monitoring, currently conducted by our biodiversity monitoring team. This is vital information, and helps to show that all our hard work is worthwhile and that we are maintaining a healthy habitat for our native wildlife. 

We also carry out shorebird surveys, assist with Bay of Plenty Regional Council sand spit surveys, and we trialed the use of UAV (drone) technology to perform aerial surveys to produce 3D profiles of our project areas. This data will allow us to form a clear picture of the patterns of erosion on the sand dunes.

See here to take a look at our bird surveys and annual reports.

3D Imagery of Dotterel Point, Pukehina
3D Imagery of Maketu Spit
High resolution ariel imagery. Easy to see MOWS members hard at work...or hardly working!

Imagery credit to Interpine Innovation

Credits to Hamish Dean – Director/producer/cameraman/editor/gaffer/Grip etc, and with thanks to Bay of Plenty Regional Council.