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Tawa Esplanade Restoration Project


Tawa Esplanade is a tributary to Te Wai o Pareira, running from northern Matipo Road between Renata Crescent and Wharf Road.

It really is a special place...  It has the only freshwater puna or spring that we are aware of, that flows all year round and the water appears to be clean and clear. This would have offered pre European Māori a very appealing combination of freshwater combined with an abundance of seafood from the awa and upper Waitematā.  There appears to be evidence of a midden  (see image below). Middens like this are an indication of settlements from early or pre European colonisation times.

Stage 1

Stage 1 of our project involved clearing rubbish and weeds from the initial planting area shown below and then backfilling this part with native plants.  We held a community planting day in August 2021.  Thanks to everyone who came along and made this such a success!

Project Partners

This project has been made possible through the generous support of the following partners:


Auckland Council support has included advice and guidance, tools, pest paste, mulch, fertilizer, ​brochures, gloves and safety glasses.  Auckland Council is also a major sponsor of RiverCare Group.

The Henderson Massey Local Board has contributed $2,000 towards project management and the costs of a sign.

Second Nature Gardens support has included advice and guidance, use of vehicles, tools, wheel barrows, bins, plant storage, volunteer support and much more!

We are excited to be working with Rutherford College with some student volunteers offering their personal time  for our weekend community projects and also the potential for a project to measure and monitor the quality of the stream water.  We are also lucky to have the input of a Rutherford College student in our planning for this project.

We were fortunate to receive a $500 grant from Ecomatters Trust in the 'Love Your Neighbourhood' promotion which enabled us to purchase 97 plants for this project.

RiverCare Group is a part of the Te Taiao Conservation Network, which includes other conservation groups who are active on Te Atatu Peninsula including, Te Atatū Marae Coalition, Forest and Bird, Sustainable Coastlines, Community Waitakere, Birds NZ.  We work in collaboration with this group and value in particular the input of our local iwi into our mahi.

Wild About Te Atatū have joined us in this mahi as our work here supports the wider effort for a Pest Free Te Atatū. Introduced predator species such as rats, possums and stoats eat our native birds, bird eggs and their food. A possum can eat as much as 3 shopping bags full of leaves in one night! We have begun monitoring at Tawa Esplanade to find out who we have living there.

We are extremely grateful for this generous support.

our objectives

The mahi (work) of RiverCare Group Te Wai o Pareira is to restore the mauri (life force) of the awa Te Wai o Pareira [Henderson Creek].  The mauri of the awa is connected to the land around it. This restoration project helps us take a step towards our goal by restoring the native ecology of Tawa Esplanade through the clearing of weeds and rubbish and planting native species that help clean the water, stabilise the banks and provide habitat for indigenous birds and invertebrates. When we restore habitat and do what we can to clean up pollution, we enable the eco-systems to become self-supporting. This is a long term project with many stages. Stage 1 has been completed and is now being maintained and  we're excited to announce that Stage 2 is underway with more planting planned for August 2022 - in time for Matariki.


stage 2

Stage 2 has begun! In January 2022 well established bramble and honeysuckle was cleared from the stream bank just below and to the left of the Matipo Rd entrance to the reserve (Renata Crescent side). Contractors have also been through the area shown below and removed as many pest species as possible while still allowing canopy cover so that the indigenous species planting we do later this year, will survive it's first few hot dry summers. The remaining privet trees etc will be removed as our new plantings become established. 




Before the weeding this harakeke (flax) bush was being strangled by honeysuckle and bindweed.

After the weeding the same bushes look a bit naked but in the long run, they will be able to breathe easier and thrive.

find out what works

Part of our objectives is to understand better what the best methods of planting are.  We are planning on trialing different methods of planting:

  1.  Method 1: use small seedling plants to get established over the coming years.

  2. Method 2: plant a smaller number of larger specimens, with lots of mulch

  3. Method 3: set aside an area with a deep mulch, monitor and remove weed species and let nature do her own replanting.

We plan to monitor each method and report back to our Community which method works the best in this location.  So far we have used Method 1 for Stage 1 and the planting has survived a very hot and dry summer remarkably well. Due in part to our care and maintenance events. Get in touch if you would like to join us!​

RiverCare Group sees this project as an enduring one.  We know it will take several years for the changes we make to return Tawa Esplanade to a place where nature flourishes. However, the time to start is now! Our future plans include:

  • Monitoring the Phase 1 site to control the re-infestation of weeds.

  • Set up additional phases to continue the restoration down the northern side of the reserve

  • Work with other groups to ensure we have effective trapping to control rats, mice and possums and other pest species

  • Continue the removal of pest weed trees on the northern side of the reserve and backfill plant with native species. 

  • We will trial the use diverse planting methods to confirm the best method

  • We will continue to work closely with the community on these endeavours and keep them informed.

  • To be inspired as to what can be achieved, check out this video.

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