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Tapu Bay restoration project ready for volunteers

August 3rd, 2013

A coastal restoration project is under way in southern Tapu Bay to build on the recent successful work by Forest & Bird to regenerate the Raumanuka Reserve (the Kumaras).

While the Raumanuka restoration was driven by Beth and Tony Bryant, the Tapu Bay project is the initiative of more recent arrivals Paul and Isobel Mosely, who have also been very active over the past year in Keep Motueka Beautiful.

Preparations for the Tapu Bay restoration have reached the point where working bees are needed for the first season's planting, and the first "planting bee" will take place in two weeks time, on Saturday August 17th. Several hundred spinifex, Poa cita, flax, pohuehue, pingao and others will be planted into sand.

The western coastline of Tasman Bay features many kilometers of dune-backed sandy beach, but much of this is heavily modified, with marram grass, pine plantations, and gorse-broom shrubland predominating, Paul explains.

"Few localities, even in Abel Tasman National Park, which has been heavily modified by farming, feature the indigenous ecosystems that one might expect along these dune-backed beaches."

This project aims to re-establish indigenous vegetation at two significant localities: the dune-sandspit on the north side of the Riwaka River mouth (see map opposite), and the dune-sandspit 1km north of Riwaka River mouth, and 1km southwest of Tapu Bay settlement (Pukekoikoi) (see map below).

These localities are significant for several reasons:

  1. They are associated with estuarine wetlands/lagoons that are in largely unmodified condition; the dune-sandspit in both cases provides a barrier from the sea for the wetland/lagoon located to landward.
  2. They have important historical and cultural value, as former landing places for maori canoes traveling to/from villages on the headlands just inland.
  3. They are immediately adjacent to the Riwaka-Kaiteriteri cycle trail to be constructed, and therefore provide an unusual opportunity for ecological education via display panels, possible nature trails, etc.
  4. They are representative of a number of similar features along the coastline of Tasman Bay and Golden Bay, such as the barrier beaches at Sandfly Bay or Bark Bay in Abel Tasman National Park. If restored to "original condition", they would provide a significant and easily accessed resource for collecting plant material for other restoration projects.
  5. They provide potential (and, to a small degree, presently actual) breeding habitat for a variety of shoreline bird species.

Both features are sufficiently small - about 0.1 ha and 1 ha respectively - to provide manageable projects for local residents, in terms of propogating plant material, removing weeds and maintaining a weed-free environment, and planting indigenous species.

The project aims to restore the vegetation cover of the two localities over a period of four to five years. Exotic species will be eliminated, and the indigenous species that would naturally be found here will be re-introduced.

The project will be carried out as two sub-projects: the Riwaka River mouth in years one and two, and Pukekoikoi in years two to four. Follow-up maintenance (weeding, replacement of failed planting) will be required for one to two years afterwards.

Paul says that while the project aims at ecological restoration, it will have a strong human emphasis. "It will aim to engage the community at large, particularly the community of the nearby Tapu Bay settlement, and members of the local iwi, who (through Tiakina te Taio) already have indicated considerable interest in restoring these localities to the condition that would have existed at the time of first settlement.

"It will be a follow-on from the successful Raumanuka restoration project on the opposite side of the Riwaka estuary, and will give that team of enthusiasts an opportunity to continue ecological restoration work.

"Importantly, the location of the two sandspits right next to the Riwaka-Kaiteriteri cycle trail will provide an opportunity to inform the trail's users (who are anticipated by the Cycleway Trust to include many family groups) about the locality's ecosystems and history."

The work will require three stages at each site:

  1. Removal of the existing exotic vegetation (gorse, broom, tree Lucerne, ice plant, etc.). This has largely been done.
  2. Replanting with native species that would naturally have been found at these locations. This is about to start.
  3. Ongoing maintenance (weeding etc.) until the plantings are self-sustaining.

Replanting will be done with species native to these localities. Plants were sourced from local nurseries, propogated by project participants with assistance from DoC Motueka, and from any other eco-sourced suppliers.

Planting will be carried out by volunteers, with the Tapu Bay community, Riwaka School, and local Forest and Bird members in particular being invited. Paul says the Raumanuka project demonstrated the importance of making "planting bees" an enjoyable social event, to maintain interest, ownership, and ongoing involvement, so elements such as morning tea breaks (food and drink supplied by the project) will be given due weight.


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