Planting progress on track

planting001One year into the Whakaora Te Waihora planting programme within the Kaituna, Huritini/Halswell and Waikekewai catchments, Workstream Team Leader Andy Spanton is very happy with progress.

“We’ve attained our first year goals to kick off the Whakaora Te Waihora Joint Cultural and Ecological Restoration Plan and the good thing about planting is, we are able to visibly demonstrate the gains we have made,” he says.

Planting along the Lower Kaituna River began in mid-August 2012, when 1,500 native plants – a mix of 20 species of grasses, shrubs and podocarps – were planted out. This continued earlier restoration work started by the Department of Conservation, to enhance Crested Grebe habitats in the area. The Te Waihora Management Board has also been planting successfully at selected sites around the Te Waihora lake margins since 2008 and Andy says he and his planting teams have been able to reference those earlier plantings to assess plant suitability.

 

Kaituna Planting

There are two main components to catchment planting: the main stems of the Kaituna and Huritini/Halswell rivers and Waikekewai Stream; and along waterways/drains, chiefly in the Huritini/Halswell catchment.

“We completed 5 kilometres of planting in the Huritini/Halswell drainage district in 2012 and we hope to complete three times that amount this year. Taking into account the very dry summer we’ve had, with near-drought conditions, planting has been successful. The dry conditions may affect some growth but overall it’s been a very positive step forward,” says Andy.

Planting in the Huritini/Halswell area has focused on grasses like Carex secta – tall, sedge-like grasses that thrive on wet edges. As they grow, they stabilise stream and river banks and provide shade, cooling the water and improving habitat for fauna such as the nationally-endangered longfin tuna (eel). They also create an in-stream habitat and help fish breeding cycles. From a waterway management perspective, they reduce weed species that grow out from the banks, which Andy hopes will reduce future waterway management requirements including weed cutting.

Andy says that wherever possible, his teams are planting as many native species as they can. Increased biodiversity is a key to success.

“We want to aid water management, but the other key perspective is biodiversity improvement and the enhancement of Ngāi Tahu taonga and mahinga kai species. We’re intent on improving the populations of native fish and plants like the rongoā (medicinal) species and harakeke for weaving. From a Ngāi Tahu perspective, mahinga kai (resource) restoration and enhancement is a key driver in the programme.”

 

Kaituna Planting

planting002“A lot of this waterway restoration work is breaking new ground,” says Andy. “Similar work has been carried out in the Tuahiwi/Waimakariri area and that provides a very good example of best practice and what is possible to achieve. We want to reinstate the types of plants that would have featured in our landscape 200 years ago and these early plantings will act as an excellent seed source for future waterway plants. Overall it’s a very exciting opportunity to be part of a long-term, multi-generational programme.”
Whakaora Te Waihora has also provided funds and materials to the Taitapu Bush Planting Community Project at Rhodes Reserve in Tai Tapu.

“We’re very keen to work with stakeholders and landowners to get the best possible outcomes, so we’re open to landowners contacting us to discuss the establishment of riparian planting on their properties. It’s all about working together collaboratively to restore and rejuvenate the mauri and ecosystems of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, so that it continues to provide for current and future generations.”