Conservationists, dignitaries and special guests celebrated three significant milestones in the Kopurererua Valley restoration project on Friday.
Two carved pou (carved posts), created by the mana whenua of the valley, Ngai Tamarawaho hapu of Ngati Ranginui iwi, were blessed and unveiled at the 300ha site, situated between the residential areas of Te Reti, Gate Pa, Greerton, Westridge and Cambridge Heights.
The gathering also marked the official opening of a wooden bridge that crosses the re-aligned Kopurererua Stream, opening up a previously inaccessible island in the valley.
Three hundred plantings took place on Friday, with 30,000 plants set to be planted over three community planting days scheduled for throughout the year.
The re-vegetation project was made possible thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Ministry for the Environment's Community Environment Fund.
The Tauranga Rotary Centennial Trust, Tauranga City Council, City Partners, local iwi and other stakeholders have worked together since 2003 to turn the valley into a valuable community asset.
The valley is due to be restored to close to its original state through scrub clearing and re-planting with native trees and plants. A network of walking and cycling tracks will be created so people can move through the valley and enjoy the bush and birdlife.
Kopurererua Valley is the largest wetland restoration project in the southern hemisphere. Park Ranger Craig Fea said Kopurererua Valley was destined to become Tauranga's Hagley Park or Auckland's Domain.