Overview of the restoration programme
• The Whangawehi Community shares a desire to maintain or improve the different cultural, ecological, recreational & economical values of the Whangawehi Catchment. Central to this aim is the need to address water quality issues & the loss of habitat for important freshwater & estuarine species – a number of which serve as kai. The protection & enhancement of remaining biodiversity values such as threatened habitat (forest & wetland) & threatened species (Longfin eel, Redfin Bully & Inanga) is of key concern.
• The group has identified in their catchment management plan the lower 7 km of the Whangawehi river as a priority in terms of habitat restoration. This section is indeed a spawning site for Inanga, an important habitat for eels and a popular recreational area. The group is working with landowners to fence off the lower reaches of the Whangawehi stream, retire 45 ha of riparian margins and establish over 168000 native trees.
Whangawehi Catchment Management Plan (Stage 2) :
Wildlife survey and enhancement options (November 2016) : wetland-survey
Biodiversity values of the area
• The Whangawehi Catchment contains a number of important biodiversity assests; the protection of which is recognised as a National Priority :
– Threatened freshwater fish (Longfin eel, Inanga and Redfin bully)
– Remnant vegetation on threatened land environments
– Wetland habitat
– Threatened habitat (eg. coastal forest)
• The headwaters of the Whangawehi Stream fall within the Mahia Peninsula Scenic Reserve, a 374 ha block of natives managed by DOC. This reserve is the largest and most diverse coastal forest in Hawkes Bay and is considered the best example of this forest type on the east coast of the North Island. A total of 147 native plant species have been recorded within this forest and many plants can be considered locally threatened eg. Dianella nigra, hen and chicken fern, Libertia grandiflora, New Zealand broom, northern rata, wharangi and whau. Two nationally threatened and two recovering plant species, Pingao and Zoysia, are known to occur in the reserve (Hebe tairawhiti), sand Tussock).
• 190 ha within the Whangawehi catchment have been assessed as part of the Protected Natural Areas programme and have some significant value in terms of biodiversity.
Alignment with the NZ Biodiversity Strategy
Our project contributes to the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and has already delivered some real benefits. Within our broader project, there are six specific objectives of the NZ Biodiversity strategy that we are trying to meet:
• “Conserving a full range of ecosystems to a healthy functioning state”
– Our riparian programme aims to develop a comprehensive, representative and adequate network of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems-where native species, non-living parts such as sunlight, temperature and water, and natural processes such as nutrient cycling, all function together in sustainable communities, habitats and landscapes.
• “Conserving nationally threatened native species to ensure their persistence”
– Our project is aiming at achieving security from extinction and longer-term recovery for threatened species that naturally occur in New Zealand, such as several species of fresh water native fish species and vascular plant.
• “Maintaining and restoring the natural features (landforms, landscapes and seascapes) that the majority of New Zealanders consider nationally iconic”
– One of the group’s focus is on retaining or improving natural heritage values, most of them have got a strong cultural significance for our local community.
• “Maintaining and restoring the native species that the majority of New Zealanders consider nationally iconic”
– The community is currently working towards the protection of nationally threatened species. Discussions have started with some of the landowners around the possible reintroduction of native bird species (kiwi or petrels) as well as a larger scale predator control projects that would allow long-term persistence.
• “Maintaining or restoring locally treasured natural heritage through working with others”
– The Whangawehi community is the driver behind the Whangawehi Stream restoration programme and its Catchment Management Plan. Many community days have been held (see Newspaper articles, blog) and many more will take place (see school planting days, Matauranga Maori workshops etc.). The group has developed long term relationship with 17 partners which demonstrates its ability to work under a collaborative approach. A Community Engagement Officer will be appointed soon (see job description attached) and her/his role will be to develop more synergies and partnerships with our wider community.
• “Holding public conservation lands, waters and species for the benefits they deliver now and for the future”
– The group has undertaken a comprehensive monitoring programme throughout the catchment to ensure that our natural heritage is protected and benefits are delivered to New Zealanders, particularly in the form of ecosystem services.