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Published: 2004-09-08 00:00:00

Planting began last week on a major environmental restoration project at Mataora Bay, south of Whiritoa.

The project is a partnership between local iwi Ngati Porou ki Mataora, Environment Waikato, Nga Whenua Rahui and Project Crimson. Ngati Porou trustee Dick Hauraki said the project aimed to protect and restore sand dunes, coastal forests, an estuarine and freshwater wetland and the Mataora Stream.

“The restoration of these key ecosystems is being integrated with existing forestry and agricultural land uses to ensure that while using the land for the benefit of our people we also protect and enhance the environment. Many of the people with connections to Mataora Bay, which once supported a school with a roll of 51 pupils, return every summer to enjoy swimming, fishing and relaxing in this unique environment.”

Mr Hauraki said the first stage of the project was completed last summer, with the construction of 2200 m of fencing to keep stock off the sand dunes and the wetland surrounding the local estuary. The group is now focusing on planting.

A large group of local people turned up on Saturday and worked most of the day on the dunes and margins of the estuarine wetland, planting 1500 spinifex on the seaward face of the dune and more than 370 hardy coastal shrubs and trees on the back of the dune and around the margin of the estuary.

In the coming summer, it is planned to fence off the Mataora stream and another wetland to be followed up with further planting next winter. The project will take about five years to complete.

Environment Waikato’s Clean Streams and Beachcare Programme manager Alan Campbell said the project typified the sorts of partnerships the Council was keen to build with landowners.

He said the Council was pleased with the commitment of Coromandel communities and landowners as this was the key to environmental protection and enhancement.

“It’s very important as a Regional community that we use our land and coastal resources in a way that maintains the quality of the environment, particularly in very special areas like the Coromandel. Partnerships like Mataora lead the way forward.”