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Waikato RiverCare successfully completes flag ship project.

The Waikato RiverCare team is pleased to announce the successful completion of our largest Waikato River project to date, the 5.63Ha Taupiri Ki Waenganui project.

What started as a 1.1ha riparian project in 2014 progressively expanded with the help and support of landowners, our generous sponsors and members of the Huntly community into an ecosystem restoration initiative which included the establishment of a 0.9ha ephemeral wetland.

Over the last six years RiverCare has planted 27,935 plants and native grasses at this project sourced from 5 different nurseries. Provided work opportunities for 12 different independent contractors with services including planting, weed spraying, earthmoving, logging, arborist, fencing and surveying. More than 80 people including volunteers have contributed to the transformation of this site from pasture and weeds to functioning riparian planting and wetland.

As you may imagine, a project of this scale requires multiple co-funders and Waikato RiverCare is fortunate to have a committed group of funders get in behind this project. Initially the Waikato District Council, then the Waikato River Authority and Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (WCEET).

RiverCare would like take this opportunity to acknowledge that the Taupiri Ki Waenganui project would not be the great success story it is without the support of our hardworking/committed contractors, supporting landowners, keen community members/businesses and our executive committee. Thank you very much to everyone who has shown their support and made this project such a success.

Project work kicked off in early 2014 when the site was surveyed to establish legal boundaries. It became clear that dialog and compromise would be required to establish project boundaries given the proximity of the wetland to the legal boundary. Once the boundary was agreed pine harvesting and pre-planting spray works were able to begin. RiverCare would like to give a special thank you to Christine Hornby from Stevenson Properties for her assistance in progressing the new fence line and pine tree harvest.

Another main feature of the Taupiri Ki Waenganui project which makes it stand out from other projects completed to date is the multifaceted nature of this project; it’s move than just a riparian planting. This project included the construction of a weir which reinstated water levels within the drained wetland resulting in the restoration of 0.9 ha ephemeral wetland critical for both invertebrates, fish and wildlife.

The Taupiri Ki Waenganui project also provided safe opportunities for community engagement with 16 volunteers from Spark and Genesis Energy enjoying a wet day in October 2015, getting their hands dirty planting the newly formed ephemeral wetland. Many other volunteers helped out with on-off visits to the project assisting the operations manager with various tasks.

Once the project was ready for planting, the first of two major planting rounds started in the 2015-16 funded firstly by the Waikato River Authority and then by WCEET in 2016-17. Between the two planting events a total of 26,423 plants and native grasses were planted.

Unfortunately establishing the planting didn’t go as planned when summer flooding in 2017 caused losses of up to 20% within the project. We are very grateful that both the Waikato River Authority and WCEET provided funding flexibility allowing RiverCare to complete extra management actions and much needed in-fill planting in the following two seasons.

With plantings now well established its hoped routine maintenance will provide the environment required for the project to be self-sustaining ie seeds generated by the plantings establish within the project creating a continuing cycle of succession.

While this project is now complete for RiverCare, we are confident the Waikato District Council will continue to maintain and protect the significant investment for the benefit of the Huntly community and the Waikato River catchment. We are extremely proud of the efforts of everyone involved in this project and we look forward to the continued success of this site in years to come.

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