Sewing a new weed cordon for Lake Rotoma with a 60-year-old Singer sewing machine and individually attaching 700 floats and more than 700m of chain with cable ties is just one of the many things Geoff Ewert and his son Van do to protect our lakes.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council contracted Geoff to make the weed cordon, which helps keep unwanted aquatic weeds at bay, after the previous cordon was damaged in a storm earlier this month.

It was installed on Tuesday at the main boat ramp.

Geoff sewing the weed cordon. Photo/Supplied
Geoff sewing the weed cordon. Photo/Supplied

Geoff said his sewing skills came from his time as a sail maker in Darwin, but only a small amount of the work could be done by machine, with the rest sewn by hand.


"My son Van helped me fasten all the floats and chains on to the netting – that was the biggest part.

"It took us 10 days straight but it had to be done. It was either get the cordon installed before Christmas or monitor the boat ramp 12 hours a day, seven days a week."

He said the weed cordon covered 100sq m of water and acted as a barrier against unwanted weeds such as hornwort which rapidly invaded water, forming dense beds and shading out smaller native species, preventing them from establishing.

Out with the old (right) and in with the new (left). Photo/Supplied
Out with the old (right) and in with the new (left). Photo/Supplied

In 2008, Lake Rotoma was the first lake in the Bay of Plenty to have a weed cordon installed which has since been replicated across the region.

Regional council biosecurity officer Andy Wills said Lake Rotoma was one of the most pristine of the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes, with no hornwort present, but unfortunately it only took a small fragment to dislodge from someone's boat, trailer or anchor to start the spread.

He said with the holiday season fast approaching and plenty of locals and visitors hitting the lakes, everyone needed to play their part and be extra vigilant.

"Make sure you remove any weed from your trailer and boat to help stop the spread between lakes. The weed cordon helps to contain any weed fragments, however, it is not 100 per cent foolproof."

With the weed cordon now in place, Geoff and Van will continue to protect the lakes in other ways, including running the boat wash station, weed spraying and helping to eradicate catfish from Lake Rotoiti.


Van said catfish fed on small native fish and their eggs, they ate and competed with koura and stirred up sediment which affected water quality.

"Dad made the catfish cordon that was installed earlier this year to help contain them in Te Weta Bay and we've been pulling hundreds of catfish daily."

Van said whatever people could do to keep the lakes looking as pristine as possible, it was well worth it.

"The boat wash station will be rotated around our most popular lakes during the holiday season checking you don't have any weeds hanging off your boat, trailer or other equipment.

"Rotorua lakes are a treasure for us as locals and being able to play a part in keeping them as clean as possible has been a rewarding experience."

• Made by hand in 10 days
• Covers an area of 100sq m
• More than 300m in length
• 400m of shade cloth
• 700m of rope in varied thicknesses
• 700m of chain
• 700 floats
• More than 2000 cable ties