A national charity has put out the call for volunteers to help plant trees to restore Maketū wetlands on Saturday.

Sustainable Coastlines is organising the planting at Wharere Rd, Pongakawa. The area is part of a broader restoration project that aims to restore at least 20 per cent of the Kaituna River's freshwater flow into the Maketū Estuary.

The land was drained for farming in the early 20th century.

Te Awa o Ngātoroirangi/Maketū Estuary is a landing place of Te Arawa waka and a traditional food bowl of Te Arawa people.


The estuary, and its ability to be that food bowl, has been considerably degraded by wetland drainage, land-use intensification, and the diversion of Kaituna River undertaken by the Crown and the Kaituna River Board in 1956.

The project, a collaboration between tangata whenua and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, also aims to restore wetland habitat through planting stopbanks to support the establishment of 20ha of salt marsh.

"Every year that we've returned to Maketū we've been amazed at the level of community involvement. It's also a huge privilege to be part of such a transformative restoration project," says event director Dan Downing.

The spread of Covid-19 across the planet has disrupted everyday life, increased the feelings of loneliness through lockdown, and proven just how fragile our global systems are, says Dan.

''But by bringing the community together to plant trees and restore our waterways we are providing a positive opportunity for our environment and our communities to thrive.''

Enabling communities to tackle issues in their local area is key to Sustainable Coastlines' kaupapa.

Of New Zealanders surveyed in a recent Colmar Brunton Poll, 76 per cent said they were extremely or very concerned about the pollution of lakes and rivers. These concerns are not unfounded, with the Ministry for the Environment report, Our Freshwater 2020, painting a picture of declining water quality and habitat for native fish in many of the country's freshwater systems.

"Planting trees alongside our waterways provides a lot of tangible impacts like reducing erosion and sedimentation, increasing biodiversity, capturing carbon and filtering excess nutrients,'' says co-founder and programmes director Camden Howitt. ''But our events also connect people with nature, allowing them to work collectively to tackle environmental challenges in their own backyard."


Sustainable Coastlines is returning to Maketū after a successful planting last year, which saw 4500 seedlings planted by 269 volunteers comprising local school students, public volunteers, corporate groups and corrections workers.

Sustainable Coastlines works with partners and community groups to keep New Zealand coastlines and waterways beautiful. The charity coordinates and supports large-scale coastal clean-up events, educational programmes, public awareness campaigns and riparian planting projects.

This year's planting will take place with the help of Maketū Ongatoro Wetland Society with trees provided by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Meet at the north Wharere Rd, off SH2 Pongakawa at 9.30am.