Calling all eco-warriors – your waterway needs you.
An environmental project that aims to build the links between communities and their natural surroundings will be piloted in Pakuranga before being rolled out around the country.
The Volcano to the Sea project is a three-year, $300,000 initiative to improve the area around the water catchment running from Pigeon Mountain/Ohui a Rangi to the Tamaki Estuary.
The project will be run by the New Zealand Landcare Trust and will encourage community stewardship of the environment.
The Ministry for the Environment will fund 80 per cent of the project with the remainder coming from the trust and Auckland Council.
Improving the state of Wakaaranga Creek and the Pakuranga Stream, which both flow into the estuary, will be a main objective.
Landcare Trust North Island team leader Kate Akers says it is the first foray into an urban environment for Landcare which usually focuses on rural areas.
"Landcare is about people taking care of their local environment and the trust's main focus is on enabling and encouraging community involvement and collaborations, so a project in an urban setting like this is an obvious one for us to be involved in," she says.
The Pakuranga catchment was chosen for a range of reasons.
"It is an urban area which provides a great opportunity to restore ecological features of the original vegetation that would have been present on the slopes of Pigeon Mountain/Ohui a Rangi."
Long ago the area would have been home to a wide array of flora, much of which has been lost to development and exotic species.
The slopes of the volcano were once covered in pohutukawa, cabbage tree, puriri, akapuka and coastal astelia which would have given way to wetlands that drained from the volcano, and then on to estuarine wetlands and saltmarsh along the coast.
Ms Akers says there are already good efforts being made to revegetate the area with natives and the new project will build on that work.
"There is a great network of community support in the area and that offers great potential for collaboration and involving everybody."
She says waterways provide for habitat, household use, industry, agriculture and recreation and need to be cared for.
"It's often said that our waterways and rivers, streams and creeks are like the arteries of the environment.
"And just like our arteries need looking after to ensure they're in good working order, so do our waterways," Ms Akers says.
Auckland Council parks team leader Birandra Singh says the project has been three years in the making and the Pakuranga area was chosen because the work could be completed in the time allowed.
The results of Volcano to the Sea would set an example for other urban catchments to follow, he says.
The project has been welcomed by those already involved in improving the area.
Tamaki Estuary Protection Society member Douglas Nicholson says it is the right time for such an effort.
"It's an excellent project and probably long overdue," the Pakuranga resident says.
"Biodiversity in New Zealand broadly is in great threat at the moment and anything that can be done to help nature regenerate in neglected areas or areas that have been damaged is a very good thing," he says.
The project partners include the Auckland Council, Howick Local Board, the Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum, the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society, Wai Care, Auckland University and Enviroschools.
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