It might not have made for light work, but many hands contributed to planting along the Rotokakahi Awa at Pawarenga last week, in a bid to sustain the river's tinanga and whitebait populations for the future.

Around 50 people, including students and staff from Te Kura o Hata Maria, members of the Pawarenga community, the Northland Regional Council, members of the Broadwood gym, Whitebait Connection co-ordinators and two French tourists planted just under 500 native plants to restore the spawning site.

Jasmine Pirini (Whitebait Connection) said the project began in June last year with a community workshop to locate inanga eggs within the salt and freshwater wedge, followed by Te Kura o Hata Maria taking part in the Whitebait Connection programme to learn about fresh waterways in a local context.

The students learned how to monitor the water, using a range of scientific methods to measure the health of the river.


In February Year 11-13 students from Te Kura Taumata o Panguru and Broadwood Area School, who were involved in the PapaTaiao programme, helped to fence the site to keep stock out, a Northland Regional Council grant covering the cost of materials while the students provided the labour.

The project also supported two local people who had achieved certification as approved Growsafe handlers.

"The project has been a success due to the collaboration of and contributions made by the land owner, community groups, whanau, local schools, the Northland Regional Council, Foundation North, Curious Minds and the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust," Ms Pirini said.

Ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the site would be carried out by Te Kura o Hata Maria over the next school term.