Waikanae Estuary Care Group begins to embrace land to involve locals in conservation

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Members of the Waikanae Estuary Care Group work on a field. Photo / Rosalie Willis

The Waikanae Estuary Care Group has started “adopting a land” to encourage residents living near the estuary to help care for the plants in the area.

After examining different ways of delivering water to different areas to improve survival rates of young plants once planted, the care group could not find any feasible options.

“Watering is perhaps one of the biggest reasons plants don’t survive, followed by frost and weed encroachment,” said Nursery Manager Sandy Collings.

Sandy Collings, Nursery Manager, Waikanae Estuary Care Group.  Photo / Rosalie Willis
Sandy Collings, Nursery Manager, Waikanae Estuary Care Group. Photo / Rosalie Willis

“We looked at different ways of getting water to different areas and it was not feasible.

“The DoC has repeatedly said that it wants greater community involvement and recognizes the difficulty of looking after such a large area, so we are urging residents to adopt a plot along the estuary to maintain.

“We are very fortunate to have such a great group of volunteers who are ready and able to help share the load.”

The Waikanae Estuary Care Group is working alongside the council and the Department of Conservation to restore more than 75 ha of native plant habitat in the Waikanae Estuary Science Reserve.

Volunteers plant, often with the support of school groups, with plants specially chosen for the wet stream beds and dunes of the region.

Sandy said: “We are planting reeds, rushes and a few trees such as kahikatea which are suitable for growing in wetlands.”

Denise and David Direen work on their adopted land near the entrance to Nuhaka Street at the estuary.  Photo / Rosalie Willis
Denise and David Direen work on their adopted land near the entrance to Nuhaka Street at the estuary. Photo / Rosalie Willis

“Carex secta is an excellent plant for very humid stream beds.

“In the moving dunes we plant sand-binding plants such as pingao and spinifex and coprosma acerosa, and for average conditions we plant manuka, kanuka, ngaio, hebes, flax, coprosma propinqua and so on. “

The care group is calling for more volunteers to register and adopt a plot, with plot sizes depending on the size of the area and time spent determined by how involved you want to be.

Denise and David Direen have been in the care group for two years and like to go out and take care of the estuary.

Although they don’t live right next to the estuary, the couple cleared their land, weeded and watered the plants to keep them healthy.

Some individuals have small areas with around 30 plants. Others, if they wish, can have a hundred plants.

“It could mean spending two or three hours a week tidying up the area and then maintaining the area by doing two hours a fortnight,” Sandy said.

“Watering the plants during the summer months is very important until the plants are established, which can take two years.

“This will require bringing water to the plants every week or twice a week.

“If the person is doing well, they can increase the size of the area they are caring for and learn the names of the plants and weeds in the area.

“We are trying to match the person with an area close to their home so that they are not too far away to carry water and their tools.”

Sandy said when there is more work to be done the care group is there to support and can arrange for the area to be cut to make it more accessible or to provide more plants if needed.

“We hope that some families will adopt an area and also bring their children or grandchildren to help.”

To adopt a plot contact Sandy on 022 685 7898.


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