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 begins as an inland freshwater puna or spring and flows all year round with clear looking water. This would have offered pre European Māori sustenance by way of an appealing combination of freshwater and an abundance of seafood from the awa and upper Waitematā. There appears to be evidence of a midden. Middens like this are an indication of settlements from early or pre European colonisation times.
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 June 2022 to coincide with Matariki.
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!
Stage 2 has begun! In January 2022 well established bramble and honeysuckle were 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 its first few hot dry summers. The remaining privet trees etc will be removed as our new plantings become established.
Before stage 2 pest species removal commenced, 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.
Te Atatū Endeavour Sea Scouts
A group of Venturers - 14-18 year old Sea Scouts - have committed to an introduced predator reduction programme at the reserve. This mahi runs throughout the year and will make a huge difference to our native flora and fauna. Forest & Bird estimates that 72,000 native birds are killed by predators every day in Aotearoa, that's a sobering number and makes us all the more determined to protect them by creating a safe haven. These photos are from our first training session with Bronwyn from Wild About Te Atatū. Step one is to find out which types of predators are living at the reserve. Bronwyn took us through the process of setting up monitoring tunnels and we all learned a lot. Ngā mihi nui kia koutou Venturers - you are superheroes!
Nau mai, haere mai Matipo Primary School!
We are delighted to be joined in our restoration efforts by Matipo Primary School students, who are now growing harakeke/flax seedlings to be planted in future stages of the Tawa Esplanade Restoration project. A massive thank you to the teachers and to Wild About Te Atatū and Te Atatū Marae for making this a rich learning experience for the tamariki. We welcome community involvement, if you would like to be involved please get in touch here.
Matipo Primary School's Te Puāwaitanga o te Wairua students are raising harakeke seedlings from seeds sourced at Tawa Esplanade. Harakeke seeds take a very long time to germinate so the tamariki had to practise patience as well as kaitiakitanga!
Our budding naturalists tried two different methods of seed raising to see which was more effective. Some seeds were soaked overnight in water, some weren't. Which method worked better?
This project has been made possible through the generous support of the following partners:
Ecomatters Trust (Love Your Neighbourhood)
Te Taiao Conservation Network
Wild About Te Atatū from Community Waitakere
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!
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 and regular maintenance visits (join us!) of the Stage 1 site to control the re-infestation of weeds.
We have planned 5 stages over several years to continue the restoration effort right down the northern side of the reserve to the end of Wharf Rd.
Bringing in other groups and schools to grow seedlings and begin effective trapping to control rats, mice and possums and other predator species.
We will continue to work closely with the community on these endeavours and keep you informed.
To be inspired as to what can be achieved, check out this video.