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Local schools help care for Tauranga Harbour

Local schools help care for Tauranga Harbour

Eleven students from Te Whare Kura o Mauāo planted 450 native plants along the banks of the Wairoa River yesterday.

It was the first of 25 Wairoa River planting sessions that are scheduled with 10 local schools over the coming months. The planting work is part of a partnership between Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council to support the restoration of two and a half kilometres of Esplanade Reserve adjacent to the Wairoa River.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer Paul Greenshields said that the work fits with the councils’ joint efforts to keep Tauranga Harbour and its catchment healthy.

“We all want clean water, wonderful wildlife and plentiful kaimoana (seafood). The new plants will help prevent river bank erosion and reduce the amount of sediment and nutrient run-off into the river.”

“Nearly 50,000 tonnes of sediment runs off the land and travels down the Wairoa River into the Tauranga Harbour each year. That affects water quality in the river as well as the harbour, it covers over sandy areas, encourages mangrove growth and has the potential to smother kaimoana (shellfish).”

“Aside from looking after water quality, a planted strip along the river’s edge also shades the water – making it a better place for our whitebait fish species and tuna (eels) to live,” he said.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council Reserves and Facilities Manager Peter Watson said that it’s been great to have the support of neighbouring landowners to protect the river’s edge.

“And getting the schools involved in planting is a perfect opportunity for the kids to take action for their environment and to learn that what happens on the land, affects the rivers and sea,” he said.

"The work will be ongoing. Regional Council estimates that 92 percent of the waterways in the Wairoa catchment are protected from stock access and run-off, but 130km of fencing and planting is still needed to bring that figure up to 100 percent.

Mr Greenshields said that Regional Council offers funding and advice to landowners to help them take better care of their steep land and waterways.

“It takes a bit of effort and investment on their part, but the farmers see benefits in stock health and on-farm efficiencies really quickly. After about three years of regular maintenance, the restored areas start to look after themselves,” he said.

Further information for landowners or Māori Land Trusts about how Regional Council can help them to care for their land is available at www.boprc.govt.nz/landmanagement or by calling a Land Management Officer, phone 0800 884 880.

ENDS

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