2021 Friends of Te Ara Kākāriki Meeting

Our Annual Friends of Te Ara Kākāriki Meeting was held on Wednesday 28th July.

Guests gathered for drinks and nibbles in the Lincoln University Commerce Centre before heading into one of the lecture theatres for the meeting. Trust Co-Chair Craig Pauling greeted guests saying Matariki was an appropriate time for our meeting as we reflect on the work over the previous year with many milestones, and look forward to new challenges and exciting projects.

In 2020 we planted our 100th Greendot, and reached an overall total of 100,000 trees which was of course significant but of course the work didn’t stop there and now there are approximately 120,000 trees in the Te Ara Kākāriki Greenway.

It was exciting for everyone to see a recently updated map illustrating all of the Greendots that have been planted across the Selwyn District, both by volunteers and through the Kids Discovery Plantout programme. Craig said: “looking back at where we started, there were none of these. We’ve done all this.”

Landowner David Manhire was presented with a plaque for his property where he is working hard to plant native trees, in remembrance of his late wife who was very passionate about nature.

The audience was visually introduced to the two legacy sites where TAK’s new four employees will focus much of their planting efforts. The first of these is a six hectare block located on a Springfield farm which will eventually see 30,000 native plants as well as walking and biking tracks for the public to be able to enjoy the site too. The second is Ahuriri Lagoon, where 20,000 plants will go in. Working with the local rūnanga has “really brought the relationship alive”.

David Murphy, Team Leader for Partnership Programmes at Environment Canterbury gave a presentation on the Whakaora Te Waihora Project, the restoration of Ahuriri Lagoon.

David described a successful environmental project as one which has lots of people working together, notably Ahuriri Lagoon is the only voluntary co-governance of a water body in Aotearoa New Zealand as far as David is aware. It was certainly a sign of progress to say “let’s work together not because we have to under legislation, but because we want to.

On a map David pointed out the Ahuriri Reserve location between Tai Tapu and Motukarara, which may seem an odd location for a lagoon except that before the land was drained Ahuriri was really a bay of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere.

It was amazing when David described how the chosen intake point from the Huritini River to Ahuriri, was in fact found to be the exact point of the original lagoon intake. “it was a skin-tingling / divine moment”

The sheer scale and difficulty of the project was illustrated when David described how a 30cm difference in depth had almost derailed it. Installing 130,000 plants while needing a ‘goldilocks’ type window of the perfect weather and ground conditions was also no mean feat, and there were several dicey moments.

Coming up to a year since planting was complete “Ahuriri is coming back to life again” – birds and wildlife are returning, with two wonderful examples – a sleek, healthy looking tuna/eel (Huritini river) and a huge inaka/whitebait (wetland). Pied Stilts have also began nesting on a small island inside the lagoon.

There is plenty of enthusiasm and scope to build on this great piece of work, and expand the area of the lagoon. In the meantime, the initial project and consequent monitoring will serve as an excellent example for other regions considering constructing wetlands.

Watch the video below for the full meeting.

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