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Hands Holding Native Plant Seedling In Nature

Ōkārito Native Plants Trust

The Ōkārito Native Plants Trust is a thriving and innovative community-driven initiative based out of Ōkārito, New Zealand with a focus on conservation and restoration efforts in South Westland. The Trust is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction and intent of the Ōkārito Plant Project along with the management of the Ōkārito Native Plant Nursery.


The initiative began around 30 years ago when a resident, Dr. Anne Hall, witnessed the illegal clearing of native bush in the area. In 2010, the Glaciers to Wetlands Restoration Project was initiated, leading to the establishment of the Ōkārito Native Plants Nursery (now a division of the Ōkārito Native Plants Trust). The project aimed to protect and restore wetlands, including the kahikatea swamp around Lake Wahapo. This involved propagating native plants, engaging community volunteers, and raising awareness about wetland conservation. After the initial funding ran out in 2014, the Ōkārito Community Association (OCA) and the Department of Conservation (DOC) entered into a management contract to continue the nursery's work.

With the establishment of the Ōkārito Plant Project, in 2022 the organisation restructured forming two clear divisions as a fresh approach to generating resources and implementing the work that is required to achieve the trust's mission - The Ōkārito Plant Nursery and the Ōkārito Plant Project. 

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South Westland, New Zealand

South Westland is a unique, bio-diverse location with over 50 habitat types and remarkable marine biodiversity. It is a haven for a wide range of species, making it a truly special place. The Okarito Native Plants Trust focuses efforts exclusively on this region. 

Ōkārito is a prime example of the region's rich biodiversity. As one of the last strongholds of wetland biodiversity in New Zealand, this area is a natural wonder that deserves preservation. 

South Westland's biodiversity hotspot status can be attributed to its unique evolutionary history. Over 80 million years without mammalian predators have allowed for the development of distinctive species and ecosystems, making it an invaluable ecological treasure.

New Zealand Native Fantail Perched On Fern

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Our Team

Paula and her partner Swade Finch 20+ year Ōkārito residents and run Ōkārito Boat EcoTours together as well as cycle tours in British Columbia, Canada. Paula is a Canadian transplant and loves being immersed in nature, photography, yoga, cycling and always learning how to respect the natural world.

Co Chair

Paula Sheridan

Founder Of Okarito Plant Project Paula Sheridan At The Beach

Aaron is the Chairperson of the Ōkārito Native Plants Trust Board, and is deeply committed to environmental stewardship, native plant conservation, and the sustainable future of our planet. He moved to the West Coast in 2015, and there, fell in love with the small community of Ōkārito. He has been involved in the Ōkārito Nursery ever since.

Trust Chair Person

Aaron Smith

Chair Person Of Okarito Native Plants Trust Aaron Smith

Tash lives in Ōkārito with her husband Cliff and two teenagers. They own a guided walking company called Glacier Valley Eco Tours and in her spare time, Tash likes to kayak on the Ōkārito Lagoon, paint, go on bike rides with Paula, macrame and play guitar.


Tash Goodwin

Secretary Of Okarito Native Plants Trust Tash Goodwin  Profile Picture
Okarito Lagoon Wetland With New Zealand Native Birds And Snow Capped Mountains
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