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Published: 2014-03-20 00:00:00

The latest phase of major weed clearance at a rare cabbage tree wetland at Hikuai on the Coromandel Peninsula has gotten underway this week.

Waikato Regional Council contractors will be working up to the end of April to clear weeds over a nine hectare section of the 13-hectare wetland known as the Hikuwai Ti Kouka Grove.

The wetland runs along the lower Tairua River between the Hikuai and Woody streams and contains one of the region’s last remaining cabbage tree forests of this scale. However, the forest has been threatened with strangulation by weeds.

Supported by local residents, and local iwi Ngati Hei and Ngati Maru, the council began restoration work several years ago. Contractors and volunteers have already removed weeds over about three hectares. More than 1200 native plants have been planted as well.

The latest work is focused on the northern part of the wetland and removing larger unwanted weeds and plants, such as privet, wattle, willows, poplars and wilding pines. Smaller weeds like blackberry and honeysuckle are also on the hit list. Much of the work is targeted at the worst area for weeds near the road going past the wetland.

“This work will make a real difference to the health of this iconic wetland,” said Coromandel catchment management officer Andy Wills.

“We really appreciate the support we’ve been getting from local people and iwi to restore this very special area.”

It’s expected that all the bigger pest plants will have been removed by the end of April from the northern end of the wetland.

After that, contractors will be planting 3500 native plants along the road edge which will act as a buffer against the re-introduction of weeds.

If people are wanting more information or are keen to get involved in the project call Andy Wills on07 866 0172.