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Published: 2013-08-27 00:00:00

Issued on behalf of Waikato RiverCare
Almost 11,400 native trees and shrubs will be planted along more than a kilometre of Waikato River bank near Huntly, during a major planting project being undertaken by Waikato RiverCare in early September.

The Raahui Pookeka A project is being funded by $60,000 from the Waikato River Authority (WRA) in the first of three major tree-planting projects it has funded through the charitable organisation Waikato RiverCare.

The Waikato Regional Council and the Huntly-based Waahi Whaanui Trust have been instrumental in promoting and supporting the site as a restoration opportunity.

Work on the planting project is expected to start on September 2nd and be completed by September 6th. The project involves planting native trees and shrubs along a stretch of river bank starting at the southern boundary of Huntly Township as you drive on State Highway 1 and ending at the Waikato District Council water treatment plant on Jackson Road.

The lower Waikato River is a key work area for a number of Waikato RiverCare’s supporting partners, who all share the goal of protecting and restoring the health and wellbeing of the river. “The project is a very good example of the collaborative work going on in the region to help protect the health of our waterways,” said Waikato River Authority co-chair Tukoroirangi Morgan.

Ben Wolf, Chairperson of Waikato RiverCare agreed that the project brings numerous benefits to the Waikato River and local community. ‘’Building sustainable partnerships is necessary to grow sustainable habitat. Thanks to the interest in the community and the availability of stakeholder support, the Raahui Pookeka project is a showcase of Waikato RiverCare’s significant role in riparian restoration of the Waikato River,” Mr Wolf said.

The planting project will complement the regional council’s excellent work in undertaking fencing to exclude stock from the site, by providing wildlife habitat, reducing the establishment of weeds and providing a buffer zone to filter surface water.

“This 1100 metre planting project is the biggest in 12 years of work on the river for Waikato RiverCare, with extremely tight timeframes (five days) for getting 11,400 plants in the ground” said Waikato RiverCare’s operations manager Kevin Hutchinson.

“We are extremely grateful to the WRA for recognising the value of this project and providing us with the funding we need to get the job done. The lower Waikato River is home to many nationally significant fish, plant and bird communities that will benefit from large scale projects like this,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“This kind of riparian planting is generally recognised as one of the best and most efficient ways to improve biodiversity.”