"We, the residents, we stand united. We want this put back to the way it was."

There's a storm brewing along the peaceful waterways of Pāpāmoa.

As part of its work to enhance the Te Ara o Wairakei stream reserve, Tauranga City Council is hosting community drop-in sessions to discuss the state of the waterway.

"We are taking feedback from our local residents in each area of the reserve. That feedback will be collated together and it will be reported to the council so we can look at improving each individual section of the waterway as the budget allows," Tauranga City councillor Steve Morris said.

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According to council, the 15km stretch of water is a stormwater drain. But residents see it differently, with distinct feedback for each of the three sections. One looks like a golf course, while others look like wetlands.

"In the first meeting residents, I can broadly say, were satisfied with some of the plantings.

"In this area here [Beachwater Drive and Gravett Rd] I've had a lot of feedback around the silt in the waterway and some of the existing flax plants that have been there five to 10 years. But also around ongoing maintenance of plants we have put in.

"In the next meeting [West Palm Beach] I expect we'll be talking about potentially removing plants and reinstating the area.

"So each individual area is different and each part of the community is different. They all treasure the waterways, that's why they live here."

Local iwi Ngā Pōtiki is involved in the project and supports the improvements to the natural environment.

"We applaud the council for its work in that we'd like to see the area preserved, or the wetlands preserved as much as possible," Ngā Pōtiki chairman Colin Reeder said.

"In preserving the wetlands you preserve the habitats of the natural wildlife that's been here for centuries. We're keen to see that happen and not just for Ngā Pōtiki but also for all New Zealanders and all people who live in Pāpāmoa.

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"This is about future proofing what's left of our environment which has been degraded on a massive scale over the past hundred years."

But not everyone is happy about the work that's already been done.

"I do agree with making wetlands from Domain Rd out because that's a flat land and doesn't drain well," said Philip Brown from the Pāpāmoa Residents and Ratepayers Association.

"But it needs to be cleaned up. We need to see the lake again, which means dig out the weeds."

The feedback is different at Palm Springs where residents 10 years ago helped clean out the weeds themselves and the area has since been managed by council.

"The next section back, Palm Springs, is a beautiful area, almost a parklands," Brown said.

"Grass through to the man-made lake and streams should be left exactly as it is. There is no scientific justification, or any other justification, to make it into a wetlands."

Sovereign Drive resident Gail Harris agrees.

"We were told that the plants would grow to a certain height – they've already doubled that height now. So that's blocking the view of what we had. We want this put back to the way it was. We will not be convinced otherwise, no matter what council say to us."

Meanwhile the council's consultation process has come under fire, once again.

"Because so many people have been complaining to council that they've decided to come and talk to us. But this waterway project went ahead without talking to anybody," Oriental Parade resident Rod Simpson said.

Councillor Steve Morris thinks the consultation has missed the wider community.

"Mana whenua, we've involved early in the piece," he said.

"But I think we've missed a bit of a trick in terms of the neighbouring residents especially. And so this process is actually going back and saying - look, we haven't actually spoken with you as well as we could. Let's start the conversation again and talk about making it right."

While that process continues, many residents like Raewyn Hughes from Saint Clair Place are happy to appreciate the wetland area for what it is.

"I don't ever expect this area behind us to be a beautifully manicured park-like setting," she said.

"Because it's actually a boggy flood zone that's designed to keep us safe when the elements come in."

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