Waimā Waitai Waiora Freshwater Project

A partnership project aiming to enhance the impact, effectiveness and reach of water quality initiatives in the Northern Wairoa & Kaipara Harbour

This year Rural Design teamed up with Northland Regional Council and Te Uri o Hau to deliver the Waimā Waitai Waiora Freshwater Project aimed at improving water quality within the Northern Wairoa river catchment.

The Waimā Waitai Waiora Partnership consists of:

  • Te Roroa
  • Te Uri o Hau
  • Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Wai Māori
  • Living Water Partnership
  • Reconnecting Northland
  • Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group
  • Sustainable Business Network – Million Metres Streams project and
  • Northland Regional Council

What the project focuses on

The purpose of the partnership is to enhance the impact, effectiveness and reach of water quality initiatives in the Northern Wairoa catchment and the Kaipara Harbour. Water quality, sedimentation and loss of suitable habitat in the Kaipara Harbour catchment has been in the spotlight for several years now. The Kaipara forest, freshwater, shrublands, dunelands and estuarine ecosystems have suffered significant loss, continuing to decline and under ongoing stress. Sediment loss from the land to Kaipara Harbour and to rivers and streams in the surrounding catchment is almost an order of magnitude higher than in pre-human times, and this has caused significant changes in the harbour and in river and stream ecosystems.

Previous studies in the Kaipara Harbour catchment have shown that 79% of the sediment depositing each year in Kaipara Harbour is eroded from pastoral land.  Sediment loss presently is split about equally between land-based erosion and streambank erosion, so measures that address both sources are likely to be most effective. Riparian planting, stock exclusion and fencing of riparian zones as a part of this project is largely in line with the overreaching management aims for the Kaipara Harbour catchment.

The Booth farm

As a part of the Waimā Waitai Waiora Freshwater Project a total 65,000 plants grown by Te Uri O Hau nursery were delivered and planted by the Rural Design team across 6 key sites in the Northern Wairoa catchment between July and August this year.

One of the landowners who took advantage of this funding stream were Northland dairy farmers Andrew and Vicky Booth, known for advocating for more sustainable land use outcomes. The Booths are sharemilkers on Andrews parents’ Richard and Sharon Booth’s 250-hectare farming operation, their property among dozens along the Mangakahia River — a major Northland waterway and part of the giant 640,000ha Kaipara Harbour catchment. Andrew is a DairyNZ climate change ambassador and the Booths have been retiring blocks of land on the family farm and planting on them for over 10-years, with a decision to choose natives rather than pines partly because natives provide a better outcome for native wildlife. The farming couple’s 10-year planting effort of planting over 11,000 plants along five kilometres of one of Northland’s biggest rivers has resulted in significant improvements in improving waterway health.

As a part of the Waimā Waitai Waiora Freshwater Project, Rural Design planted a further 10,000 plants on the Booth family farm along a reclaimed historical swamp which forms a tributary of the Mangakahia River. If you’d like to see what else the Booth family are doing to promote sustainable farming practices you can follow them on Twitter : @1farmerbooth

Looking ahead

Here at Rural Design we are now gearing up for spring maintenance across the 6 sites to control any weedy species that might have popped back up since the initial site preparation. Maintenance will give the native plantings another boost to ensure they establish well and thrive through the spring and summer months! We can’t wait to check on our work and see how the plants have grown.