It's a good play on words – and what the Makaracarpas are doing is also a good play when it comes to riparian planting and water quality.
The Makaracarpas are a group of about eight core committee members from various walks of life who mobilise local residents, landowners and farmers around the rugged beauty of Makara – the westernmost point of Wellington, site of some close-to-the-city rural living and one of Wellington's biggest catchment areas, through which the Makara and Ohariu streams flow into the Makara estuary.
Originally formed about 15 years ago to address the declining state of the estuary, the Makaracarpas (whose name sounds identical to the well-known New Zealand tree, macrocarpa) have now broadened their work to increase biodiversity and improve water quality in the area.
This year, the Makaracarpas are working with 18 landowners in the community to achieve their individual goals for their sites.
"People have all different reasons for riparian planting", explains the group's catchment co-ordinator Louise Askin. "Some are more focused on water quality and biodiversity, others are more concerned about eroding stream banks eating into their property or paddocks, and still others about flooding. There's a whole range of drivers that get people involved."
There is no set membership of the Makaracarpas and Askin says their success comes from mobilising local residents to work with other local landowners on a variety of tasks, including riparian planting.
But the landowners supported by the Makaracarpas receive access to wider support, including funding plants, fencing, site prep, plant protectors and site maintenance, the costs of which are split 50-50 between the owners and community group.
"That's hugely helpful, given the often prohibitive costs of riparian planting projects in rural areas," says Askin, estimating that the 18 projects currently being undertaken by the group involve about $25,000 from the Makaracarpas (funded by Trees That Count, Meridian Energy and the Greater Wellington Regional Council) and a similar amount in "in-kind" contributions from the landowners themselves.
In terms of knowledge, the Makaracarpas work with locals to provide advice, information and tools needed for successful riparian management: "We recently had our annual information day [on riparian planting] and we had 61 people there, "Askin says. "That's a pretty good turnout and shows the local interest this is creating and how the momentum farmers have is rubbing off on others.
"Many farmers are now seasoned planters who understand how to get the most out of the harsh windy, salty, and hilly environment, and are able to share this know-how with others.
"Some of our farmers have been at this work for quite a while, and the Makaracarpas are working alongside this existing momentum", she says.
The group sees themselves as facilitators first and foremost, networking with relevant expertise, local nurseries, and securing funding through supporters such as Greater Wellington Regional Council and Meridian.
They have made excellent progress over the past decade, says Askin. With significant gains made on their initial estuary restoration plan, they have now shifted their focus further up the Makara Stream's catchment.
Each year the Makaracarpas coordinate the wider community to attend planting days, information sessions and several one-off projects. Their volunteer planting days and partnerships with local properties have seen, over time, more than 20,000 plants established around the streams.
"It's still early days as far as riparian planting is concerned," she says when asked about water quality gains in the area. "But we are confident it will make a difference in the future."
The support the group has received from Trees That Count in 2020 forms one year of this ongoing programme. Generous Kiwis keen to make progress on cleaning up waterways donated 175 native trees to the Makaracarpas' work as part of The Vision is Clear, through Trees That Count's online native tree marketplace.
Like The Vision is Clear movement, the Makaracarpas are keen to raise awareness throughout New Zealand that many farmers and community groups are working towards improving waterways.
"We're doing our bit to change the narrative", says Askin. "We love to celebrate the community momentum and the work that both farmers and small block owners have achieved in our area.
"What we and the landowners are doing can really help to reduce sediment [run-off] by riparian planting and we believe that will improve water quality."