A further step in the recovery of the Manawatū River took place on Saturday, June 29 when about 40 volunteers responded to the call from the Te Kāuru Hapu Collective to continue the planting of the Manawatū River banks.

Following international bad publicity about the state of the Manawatū River in 2009, the Te Kāuru Hapu Collective was formed to restore the river to its original pristine condition.

It gained the support and funding of the Manawatū River Leaders Accord — mayors of the districts and Palmerston North through which the Manawatū River flows and other dignitaries who also saw the need to clean up the river.

Principal actions were to progressively retire the banks of the Manawatū from farming and to plant native species to promote water quality.

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The Kite (Agnes, Zoe, Chloe and Andrew) and Heald (Isabella and Charlotte) families all helping plant native flora at the Manawatū River headwaters on Saturday.
The Kite (Agnes, Zoe, Chloe and Andrew) and Heald (Isabella and Charlotte) families all helping plant native flora at the Manawatū River headwaters on Saturday.

In July 2013 the first plantings of native trees and shrubs were carried out in the headwaters of the Manawatū, Tararua mayor Roly Ellis planting the first of 1500 that day assisted by Craig Mitchell of Horizons Regional Council, Manahi Paewai representing Te Kauru Hapu Collective and a large group of locals. A further 2800 were planted over the next week.

Since that time 1000 trees and shrubs have been planted in different locations along the Manawatū River each year as landowners agreed to retire their river flats, under the guidance of Te Kāuru Hapu Collective.

On Saturday the programme received a huge boost as landowners Blair and Penelope Drysdale volunteered to retired the road side of their farm on Manawatū River Valley Rd making land available for 4000 plants. They wanted to allow the community and schools to be able to come to visit and learn about cultural health and water monitoring.

The original plantings of 2013 are well established.
The original plantings of 2013 are well established.

Among the species planted on Saturday and supplied in great condition by Coppermine Nurseries were mountain and swamp harakeke, ribbonwood, toi toi, kanuka and manuka, karamu and a dozen totara. Horizons fresh water specialists Lucy Fergusson and Logan Brown were there to ensure the planting was effective as strong winds blow down the valley.

In association with this environmental cleansing and education programme, eight Tu Te Manawa whares have been built along the Manawatū River explaining the Manawatū Preservation Project and the cultural significance to Māori of each site.

The first of the eight Tu Te Manawa whares which are located along the Manawatū River.
The first of the eight Tu Te Manawa whares which are located along the Manawatū River.

The first in the line of whare is located on Manawatū River Valley Rd and each of the eight was formally opened on April 24.

There are three east of the Manawatū Gorge — Bush Rd, Woodville, and Ferry Reserve being the others.

Arapera Paewai explains how to plant a shrub in this windy valley.
Arapera Paewai explains how to plant a shrub in this windy valley.

Arapera Paewai, who led the project for Te Kāuru Hapu Collective, was delighted by the turnout of locals and the support of local businesses — the Norsewood Café supplying a great lunch, the NZ Sock Company donating 20 Merino Wool beanies, Farmlands and Farm Source providing more beanies and drink bottles.

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She said it is important locals engage with the river. "It is our bloodline and flows right through the district," she said.