Protection for river's source

By Christine McKay


In the Ruahine Ranges where the mighty Manawatu River is little more than a trickle, work is underway to restore the river's mana.

Last week the first post holes were being dug for a fence along 620m of road reserve, owned by the Tararua District Council and 500m of farm land owned by Norsewood's Hank McKay.

The fencing will help to protect dwarf galaxids which are only found in small, clean, cobbled bottomed stream. The tributaries in the upper reaches of the Manawatu catchment are the only place in the Horizons region they are found.

"They're reasonably threatened and are a significant environment indicator species," Lucy Ferguson, Horizons freshwater co-ordinator, said.

"This site has been identified as one of significance for dwarf galaxid among other native fish species and the 5500 plants earmarked for planting in this area will help to provide shade for these fish while lowering levels of nutrients, e coli and sediment in the river.

"Being here right near to the source of the Manawatu River has special significance for iwi too."

Hone Morris of Ngati Marau told the Dannevirke News, his iwi supported efforts to clean up the river.

"By fencing we'll be protecting the spawning grounds and it's also an opportunity to regenerate native flax and bush and we may be able to source flax for weaving and trees for medicines," he said.

"We need to ensure the Manawatu River becomes healthy again."

Norsewood landowner Hank McKay said he was happy for some of his land to be fenced off.

"This land has been in my family for 55 years and while I lease the block out now, it's important to protect our waterways," he said.

"If the river fails it affects everyone down stream, especially those farmers reliant on the river as their only source of water. If we don't look after the river, then people will be left with nothing. We just have to make a start."

Tararua district mayor Roly Ellis said he was pleased the fencing of the river has begun at the headwaters.

"The Horizons team have already signed up six farmers and are looking for more. This is a very worthwhile projects and to see fencing and planting take place is one way of improving our environment. Protecting native habitats and sharing the costs means we're being proactive," he said.

You can help

There will a planting day on Saturday, July 13 at the fenced-off areas of the upper Manawatu River at Norsewood.

The day will begin with a powhiri at the Rakautatahi Marae at 9.30am before moving to the planting site. People can chose to go to the powhiri and the planting or just meet at the planting site at 11am. This is a bring-your-own spade day, but there will be a sausage sizzle. Promises to be great family day out.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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