Tēnā koutou katoa, greetings everyone!

What extraordinary times we are going through at present! I do hope that everybody has kept themselves and their family safe and well. We also sincerely hope that wherever you may read this, the threat from Covid 19 will soon disappear and that a return to some sort of normality is well under way.

In New Zealand, we were certainly pleased with the way our team of five million people has worked together to eliminate the virus. But we must remain vigilant. Being an island certainly enables reasonable controls to be put in place at our borders.

With this message, we are pleased to confirm that the Christchurch/ Ōtautahi INTECOL Wetlands Conference Organising Committee has decided on new dates for the 11th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference (IWC). We will host the conference over 10-15 October 2021.

Thank you to the many of you who had submitted an abstract and/or had started to register. We hope that you will still be able to come. It is very likely that, for the first time in its history, the INTECOL Wetlands Conference will add an online component to the programme. We are excited, as it will provide to those who may not be able to attend, an opportunity to share their stories. And may the several weeks in lockdown have inspired you to think of good stories to share with us.

We are therefore delighted to renew our invitation to Te Pae[1], the new Christchurch Convention Centre located by the spring-fed Ōtākaro/Avon River, one of the two iconic rivers that meander through the city and flow into the Avon Heathcote Estuary/Ihutai. The estuary joined an exclusive list of wetlands making up the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) network in October 2018.

The rivers and estuary are especially significant to Ngāi Tahu, the local iwi/Maori tribe. The dramatic changes that have affected and still affect wetlands in New Zealand, have strongly impacted their customary relationship with ‘wet lands’ and as places for mahinga kai[2]. Mātauranga Māori relates to that historic and present-day traditional knowledge, the systems of knowledge transfer and storage, and the local goals, aspirations and issues from an indigenous perspective.

This inspired us to propose an original theme for the 11th IWC: traditional knowledge and innovative science in wetland research and management. Our idea is to create a programme that will enable the sharing of stories from the five continents and island countries around wetland traditional knowledge and uses. This will help the integration of traditional knowledge in western science and highlight further the importance of the world wetlands for local populations.

Participants at the conference in 2021 will be able to discover and explore a modern city that has evolved around a wetland environment. Christchurch has also retained a considerable historic heritage, and with its numerous cafes, restaurants, and an ever presence of music and the arts, it will seduce everyone as a very vibrant place.

The South Island/Te Wai Pounamu is also a very scenic destination for many travellers from around the world. Of note are the large braided rivers that flow from the Alps across the plains to the Pacific Ocean. Those rivers inspired the design of Te Pae and the logo of the conference. The Committee will offer a wide range of attractive excursions before, during and after the conference, not only in the South Island but also in the North Island and Australia.

We look forward to welcoming you to the 11th Christchurch/Ōtautahi IWC in October 2021!

Ngā mihi mahana/Kind regards,

Dr Philippe Gerbeaux, Shona Myers & David Perenara-O'Connell

[1] Te Pai tangata means a place to meet, converse, to be hosted, to share, entertain and learn

[2] Mahinga kai properly refers to Ngāi Tahu and Māori interests in traditional food and other natural resources and the places where those resources are obtained


Dr Philippe Gerbeaux


Shona Myers

David photo2

David Perenara-O'Connell