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Published: 2001-08-03 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has earmarked $40,000 to assist the Whaingaroa Habourcare group with fencing and planting of Raglan Harbour catchment.

The group has spent the past six years working with local property owners to protect the harbour’s edge and improve its water quality by fencing it off from stock and growing thousands of plants.

Environment Waikato catchment services programme manager Bruce Peploe said the Council had been providing considerable financial assistance ($52,000) for the group over recent years and its achievements warranted an increased contribution in the new financial year. The group grew its own plants and was working with local people to keep stock out of the harbour, which benefited farmers, improved water quality and improved the fishery.

The group had made a strong submission to the Council’s Strategic Plan outlining its work and the Council wanted to acknowledge its achievements.

Whaingaroa Harbourcare secretary Fiona Edwards said the funding would assure the group’s future for another year and allow it to seek more assistance from other organisations.

Over the previous six years it had put 300,000 trees in the ground and it intended to grow and plant out 80-100,000 plants each year. It was working with one farmer who would have 26 km of the coastline fenced and planted over the next couple of years, accounting for 10 percent of the harbour’s edge alone.

“We’re trying to encourage farmers to fence and do riparian planting and some have almost entirely fenced their waterways. We focus on an area and work on getting the harbour edge fenced and then work on the streams.”

She said improvements were already obvious, with whitebait returning to areas where they had vanished, and new signs of crab holes and pipis visible where there had previously been no life at all.

“One barren stream that we turned into a wetland below the rubbish dump now has 13 different species of aquatic invertebrates living there and the fishers are saying they never had fishing so good. They can also see the water quality improving.”

The work also had financial benefits for farmers, with cows increasing production dramatically when they drank unpolluted water. One farmer said his production had increased by 20 percent, she said.