In the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges, where the mighty Manawatu is little more than a trickle, work is underway to restore the river’s pride and mana.
Horizons Regional Council’s freshwater coordinator Lucy Ferguson says fencing and planting at the source of the Manawatu is a significant project under the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord.
It will enhance habitat for native fish and contribute to the good health of the river. It is also a significant project for local iwi as it presents an opportunity to regenerate native flax and bush.
“We’re currently working with Tararua District Council and landowner Hank McKay to fence along just over one kilometre of road reserve and private land alongside the river,” Ms Ferguson says.
“We’ll also be holding a public planting day on Saturday 27 July, providing the community with an opportunity to get involved.
“This will begin with a powhiri at Rakautatahi Marae at 9.30am and people can choose whether they join us from this time or meet at the planting site at the end of Manawatu River Road at 11am. It is BYO spade and gumboots but lunch will be provided and we ask that people RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if they’d like to come along.”
Approximately 5,500 native plants have been earmarked for planting at the site and it is one part of a suite of eight projects to receive funding from Central Government’s Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-Up Fund.
The area has also been identified as a site of significance aquatic for dwarf galaxias , a rare native fish that is only found in small, clean, cobble-bottomed streams.
“In our region, dwarf galaxias are only found in the upper tributaries of the Manawatu catchment,” Ms Ferguson says.
“They are a non-migratory species so they spend all their lives in these little streams and never come down to the main stem or larger rivers. Their population status is currently in decline and it is important that we protect as much of their habitat as we can.”