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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 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.

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. Stages 1 & 2 have been planted with initial plantings and are being maintained and we're excited to announce that Stage 3 is underway with more planting planned for August 2023 shortly after the reappearance of the Matariki star cluster

Stage 1, 2021

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, 2022

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 (southern side). A well-attended community planting day in July, followed by an awesome effort by Matipo Primary School students put another 612 ataahua indigenous plants in the ground to create habitat for our native manu. We were lucky to have a couple of stunning days for planting in early July, the rain started shortly after and a very wet winter was followed by a record-breaking wet summer complete with devastating flooding and a cyclone. Despite the rain, the plants are doing very well - check our events page to get involved.

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.

Stage 3

Stage 3, 2023

Our next area of clearing and planting extends west on the northern side of the reserve from where we left off in Stage 1. As well as some large privets and other pest species, there are established indigenous plants in this part, so the work is delicate, and we're pleased to be taking on more of the prep and maintenance mahi, supported by Auckland Council. We are currently waiting for the broken old footpath to be removed, and plan to plant that area too. This will extend the stream edge, supporting the planting we did in Stage 1 and will eventually result in less slipping. We will also begin to infill the two planted parts (Stages 1&2) with enrichment planting - we are thrilled to be getting to this stage as we mimic the natural succession cycle of a regenerating forest.

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Stage 3 will be planted in August 2023 - join us for one of the community planting or maintenance events listed here


This Puriri is positively glowing and will soon be a tasty destination for indigenous manu, we're hoping to spot kererū in the reserve in years to come.

Our 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 continues to contribute significantly towards the project, and our Community Ranger Kim Morris is always on hand for advice and support.

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

TTCF support this mahi through project management costs.

Matipo Road School students visit the reserve, have conducted Wai Care testing, bird counts, invertebrate counts and a group of students are also propagating plants for the restoration of this precious reserve. They also come and plant once a year - ka mau te wehi!

We have worked with Rutherford College student volunteers and had the valued 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 re-planted sites 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, 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.

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