More than 5000 natives have been planted in the Kiwitea catchment north of Cheltenham.

Horizons Regional Council were joined by Higgins staff last week for the stream planting day.

The event was one of three planting days, with the others involving Waituna West School and local community members, who have collectively planted 5500 natives at the site.

Horizons freshwater and partnerships manager Logan Brown says the project involves the retirement of a gully system which is the headwaters of one of the streams that flows into the Kiwitea Stream and then the Ōroua River.

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"Landowners Mike and Lindsay Will retired the gully last year.

"They fenced the gully to exclude stock using a 30 per cent subsidy from Horizons, as well as receiving another 50 per cent grant to plant the riparian area directly alongside the stream," Brown said.

"This winter the plants will cover the rest of the area to help reduce sediment, nutrients and Ecoli entering the waterway by capturing farm run-off as it works its way down the gully.

"The plants will also contribute to improvements in aquatic habitat as well as benefit terrestrial biodiversity by providing food and shading."

This winter's plants have been funded by a Manawatū River Leaders' Accord community grant, which supports projects that aim to improve water quality in the wider Manawatū catchment and engage the community.

"Today we got 1500 plants put in on one of the gully faces and are pleased to have the help of approximately 25 Higgins staff from Palmerston North and Feilding.

"Many hands make light work and we got through the planting really quickly thanks to their efforts."

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Higgins project manager Shawn Signal says the company was involved in a planting day with Horizons and the Manawatū Turbos last winter and was pleased to take part in another event this year.

"Higgins has been in the Manawatū for close to 60 years and are always keen to take up opportunities to give back to the community," he says.

"Planting days like today are perfect for that as well as giving us the chance to contribute to the environment."

Brown says the commitment of the Wills has been a driving factor in the success of the project.

"Lindsay has been fundamental through her organisational skills and has undertaken laying out plants before community planting days, as well as getting local buy-in through Waituna West School, the playcentre and community members.

"Mike has also been spot spraying and releasing plants from last year to ensure they have the best chance of survival in a sometimes harsh climate."

Mike Will says the 480ha sheep and beef farm has a Horizons Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) Whole Farm Plan which identified the gully as being ideal for retirement.

"The gully system is a pretty special place as it has some regenerated bush including rewarewa, rimu and tōtara so protecting it was important," he says.

"The area also feeds a dam for stock drinking water so not only will cleaner water get to the Kiwitea Stream, but also to our stock.

"We're really grateful for all the help we've received from Horizons, the community and Higgins to get these plants in the ground."

Horizons stream fencing and planting grants are highly popular every year and landowners who are interested in getting involved are encouraged to contact Horizons' freshwater team as early as possible on 0508 800 800.

The Manawatū River Leaders' Accord community grants will open on 1 July and close in early October. For more information about these grants and how to apply please see manawaturiver.co.nz.