White bait work on Pongaroa Station

On Wednesday the 11th of September 2019, Helen Jonas and Hawaiki Walker from DOC went with Nic to the Whangawehi stream to carry out some white bait work. The spawning site was fenced off in 2014 but still remains marginal in terms of the quality of its habitat for white bait spawning. The hot spot is a short 100 m stretch of river where the fresh water mixes up with the salt water. White baits lay their eggs in the vegetation growing on the river bank during king tides. The eggs need to be exposed to the air to be able to mature.

Today, the team laid several hay bales and pegged them firmly to the banks. The idea is to offer a favourable environment for the fish to come back and lay their eggs. The river banks have been eroded over the years (due to floods and storms) and offer upright papa surfaces with no vegetation. We hope that this trial will be successful.

Local white baiters Nathan and Wayne explained that last year was an exceptionally good year for white bait. This year, fishing has started off fairly slow. Nathan was really impressed by the extensive plantings and explained that the water was cleaner and the fish more abundant. Having spent more time along the river recently, he has noticed more and more cats and stoats so we need to improve our pest control work.

A big thank you to Helen and Hawaiki from DOC for their help. Enjoy the photos and the short video clip

If you want to learn more about best practice and fishing regulations please follow the link : https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/things-to-do/fishing/whitebaiting/

Whangawehi update

The Whangawehi catchment is looking amazing in this late winter early spring. Our trees are growing well everywhere! The newly retired Mangatupae stream was planted in July 2019 with a mixture of manuka and podocarps. The trees have been recently release sprayed and are looking great. The wetland planted in May 2019 during a community planting day is doing extremely well as well. The open water created in January is already attracting a large number of ducks.

As you can see on the photos, Josh Rofe, Manager on Taharoa Trust is already docking marking the beginning of a new season.

The trees planted on Okepuha Station two years ago are looking extremely healthy. Richard and Hannah are busy raising the next generation of caretakers for their retired areas!

It has been a very busy with for Bevan on Pongaroa Station with 15 ha retired in 2 tributaries to the Whangawehi stream and 5 ha retired in the Wainui catchment. The bush block by the woolshed has been extended by retiring an adjoining wetland.

Well done Whangawehi team, you are incredible

Regenerating Hill Country project

The regenerating Hill Country team wants to extend their thanks to the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group and all of the people who gave their time and hospitality whislt they were visiting in Te Mahia this week. Henrik, Katherine and Ang met with farmers, kaitiaki and agencies to learn about the work of the WCMG and the vision for the future of Te Mahia and surrounding Hill landscape. This work is part of a longer term project researching how best to future proof hill country farming and communities.

Henrik and his team will get back to us with a report /summary of their findings. Thank you all for your support.

Beef and lamb research project

On the 15th of August 2019, Georgia a Masters student from Massey came to establish 300 native trees as a trial on Pongaroa Station. Trees included : Mahoe, Taupata, Fivefingers and Griselina. This trial is part of a Beef and Lamb Research funded project sitting under the umbrella of the Regenerative hill country landscape. Georgia will be monitoring tree growth and nutritional value during the next couple of years. These trees are potential food source for stock if managed appropriately. We will keep you updated on Georgia’s findings.

Restoration update

The retirement of three gully systems on Pongaroa Station is nearly completed. Bevan Parker, farm Manager is embracing the Whangawehi Kaupapa and retired this winter the Top Wainui gully and 2 large gully systems tributaries to the Whangawehi stream bringing the total area protected to 20 ha. These retired areas will be covenanted under a Queen Elizabeth II covenant which will protect these blocks for perpetuity.

The Whangawehi gullies have been fenced off with support from HBRC, QEII and landowners contribution. A big thank you to Malcolm Rutherford and Kevin Jones who offered guidance around historical sites.

Well done to Bevan and his team for their dedication and commitment to protect our unique natural and historical heritage.

Fiona Clark visits Whangawehi

On the 11th of June, Fiona Clark from MPI visited the catchment to be more familiar with the restoration project and the walkway. Fiona was interested in better understanding where the walkway was, its connection with the DOC bush loop and the role it will play for the District.

Thank you Fiona for spending the time to come and visit us, we are looking forward to working with you more closely.

TRIP TO RAROTONGA

Between Friday 16th- May until 19th May Nic Caviale had the privilege of flying to Rarotonga to meet with an environmental community group based in Muri. Through the IRF River Foundation-winners are given the financial opportunity to develop a relationship with a foreign country. The objective is to share lessons and skills learnt and then mutually benefit from this expertise which can create an opportunity such as restoring a river.

These partnerships are an exchange of experience and skills based around personal relationships. IRF assists by facilitating these partnerships and acting as a catalyst to help partners with seed funding and match networking opportunities.

The Muir community is based in the Takitimu district and is closely connected to the many waka who gathered in the Bay before starting the long journey towards Aotearoa (New Zealand).  The strong Whakapapa connection found between the Muri community and our Wairoa district is extremely valuable and something we want to build on.

This part of the island is going through rapid development due to the expansion of tourism. This rapport expansion is happening without any major infrastructure upgrade which heavily affects the environment in general. During my visit I saw how the wetlands at the foot of the hills were disappearing and filled in to build new hotel and shops.

These wetlands offer a buffer from heavy rain falls which not only delay the flow of water but also filter the water before it reaches the beautiful Muir Lagoon. Climate change is also affecting the island in general by creating more frequent high rainfall events. The rise o sea level is also a challenge for the Cook Islands in general . The challenge lays in finding the balance between the development of tourism, the upgrade of public infrastructure and the protection of water quality both in the fresh water and the lagoon.  The Muri restoration group has always been proactive and we are looking forward to the possibility of developing this relationship further in the future.