Date: 18 October 2019
Students, staff and whānau from Huntly College, Te Kauwhata Primary, Te Kauwhata College and Ruawaro Primary School arrived eager to get digging and planting the 5,000 plants laid out as part of the Lake Whangape Restoration Project (LWRP).
The Project, funded by DOC, Waikato Regional Council (WRC), Waikato-Tainui, the Waikato River Authority and Ministry for the Environment through the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund, aims to improve water quality at Lake Whangape and the natural wetlands that adjoin it.
Lake Whangape and surrounding areas are recognised as nationally and regionally significant for conservation and have important cultural and recreational values.
The lake supports a diverse range of flora and fauna including nationally important threatened species such as significant turf (short statured plants) communities around the lake’s shoreline during late summer/early autumn. It also supports black mudfish, and birds including dabchick/weweia, Australasian bittern/matuku, scaup and banded rail/moho pereru.
Kerry Bodmin, Project Manager for LWRP, is excited that planting has got off to such a good start.
“It is so good to see plants in the ground after all our planning, thanks to such a massive effort by the students, staff and whanau”, she said.
“Full restoration of Lake Whangape will take time, but the work the agencies are doing together will set a good foundation for the long-term protection of the diverse flora and fauna it supports.”
The schools were joined by staff from DOC, WRC, Waikato-Tainui and local farmer Oliver Saxton. Sustained by a sausage sizzle and inspired by spot prizes, the children amazed the adults present by planting 2,100 plants - far more than expected. Contractors planted the remaining 2,900 plants.
There is a still long a way to go as the plan is to plant 53,000 plants over 8.8 hectares. Other restoration actions planned around the lake by DOC include twenty-six kilometres of stock-excluding fences around lake margins and weed control. WRC has expanded their alligator weed control programme.
Maatauranga Maaori (wisdom) has been woven throughout the project. Waikato Tainui is leading the development of a Kaitiaki Monitoring Framework, with mana whenua designing and/or undertaking monitoring to detect changes from restoration actions.
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