The biggest wetland restoration project in the Southern Hemisphere is under funding pressure because of the Tauranga City Council's plan to halve its contribution to $100,000 this year.

Pressure to increase rather than reduce the contribution has come from the area's hapu Ngai Tamarawaho which said much remained to be done in the toll road valley that runs from The Lakes to the Judea industrial area.

Nearly 12 years have passed since work started on the mammoth 20-year project to transform 300 hectares of Kopurererua Valley from rough farmland into a natural landscape.

But with only eight years left in the $8.3 million project that included planting more than a million wetland shrubs and trees, hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere has asked the council to boost its funding to $300,000. He said the most pressing work that remained to be done was to realign the remaining section of the Kopurererua Stream back to its meandering course.


The stream was straightened into a farming drainage channel at least 50 years ago, causing much distress to Maori because it was central to the hapu's life and legend.

The $800,000 channel realignment and plantings from Wylie St to Faulkner St completed in 2009 was to have been followed by two further realignments in 2013-14 and 2017-19.

Mr Mikaere said the growth of housing at Pyes Pa and Tauriko meant that K-Valley was also a green accessway for runners, walkers and cyclists.

"Tauranga is blessed to have this potential that provides people with the option of getting to and from work under their own steam."

Ngai Tamarawaho's submission to the council's 2016-17 Annual Plan was to increase funding to $300,000 a year and to reassess the situation in 2019.

A major partner in the valley's restoration has been four Tauranga Rotary clubs who chose the wetland restoration and development of walkways as Rotary's centenary project.

Centennial Trust chairman and Tauranga Rotary Club member Mark Dean said the cut in council funding for the next nine years had affected the trust's ambitions for the valley. "Gone are the days of massive plantings," Mr Dean said.

The trust had planted more than 250,000 trees and shrubs valued at more than $1million since 2005. The council's contribution had been site preparation followed by maintaining the newly planted areas until the plants did not have to compete with weeds.


But the funding cut meant the trust had switched most of its attention to building two bridges. With the help of TECT, it had raised $190,000 to build two bridges to link the walkway with the Waikareao Estuary's walkway.