Community invited to get involved in Ahuriri restoration

Planting out at Ahuriri.

Planting out at Ahuriri.

The local community is invited to get involved in developing restoration options for the ecologically and culturally important Ahuriri Reserves near Tai Tapu.

 

There has been community interest in the possibility of restoration of the Ahuriri Reserves for many years.  Earlier this year a partnership was formed between Papatipu Rūnanga, the Te Waihora Management Board, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Department of Conservation and Environment Canterbury to progress development of a restoration plan for the reserves.

 

A public meeting was held at Motukarara in May which gave stakeholders an opportunity to provide input on restoration objectives and desired actions for the reserves.

 

Five draft restoration objectives were discussed – drainage management, mahinga kai, wetlands, water quality, education and recreation.  A steering group with members from Papatipu Rūnanga, the local community, the Department of Conservation and Environment Canterbury was formed to lead development of a 20-year plan for the Ahuriri Reserves.

 

Volunteers contributing to the new Ahuriri landscape.

Volunteers contributing to the new Ahuriri landscape.

Over the last few months the steering group has heard information about Ahuriri’s historic and current values, and also considered other wetland restoration/construction projects.

 

This summer, surveys will be undertaken examining fish and aquatic habitat, vegetation and groundwater to help gather more information on these values. The steering group will use this information to make decisions about how best to achieve restoration objectives.

 

Planting is already being undertaken by Whakaora Te Waihora, the major restoration programme for the lake. Contractors will be working to maintain these plantings over coming months. Volunteer planting days will be another opportunity for the local community to get involved in the project.

 

Starting in the new year, restoration options will be developed to help collate the various ideas and visualise what they might look like.  As these are developed the steering group will bring drafts back to licence holders, stakeholders and the community for discussion and input.

 

To get involved or be kept up to date about this project, please send your contact details to Jodi Rees, Senior Biodiversity Officer at Environment Canterbury  jodi.rees@ecan.govt.nz.

 

Background

map Ahuriri Reserves - small JPEGThe Ahuriri Reserves cover approximately 194 hectares of Environment Canterbury endowment land, in the Huritini/Halswell catchment downstream of Tai Tapu township (see map).

 

The land was vested in Environment Canterbury for flood-management purposes, and is an important part of the Halswell River Rating District. It is the most significant wetland habitat in the Greenpark-Tai Tapu-Halswell-Christchurch lowlands and forms part of one of New Zealand’s most important bird movement corridors.

 

Before it was drained, the Ahuriri Lagoon was surrounded by koraha (mudflats) and together these provided a significant mahinga kai resource. Today some 45 hectares of the area is retired from grazing, allowing for natural regeneration to wetland in the wetter areas, and restoration planting in the higher areas. The remaining areas are licensed for grazing, and winter ponding provides significant habitat for native wading and water birds.

 

The Ahuriri Reserves can be viewed from the Christchurch-Little River Rail trail where it runs through the reserves from downstream of Neills Road to the bridge at Park Road.