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Published: 2012-11-22 00:00:00

The restoration of a cabbage tree wetland at Hikuai on the Coromandel is a great example of what collaboration can achieve when it comes to restoring a significant natural area (SNA), the regional council’s pest management committee heard today.

The Hikuai Ti Kouka Grove Restoration Project involves funding from the regional council, Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) and local iwi Ngati Hei.

“It’s really great to see a joint effort delivering some very healthy results when it comes to weed control and enhancement of this naturally beautiful area between Hikuai and Tairua,” said committee chair Laurie Burdett.

The grove of cabbage trees is in a narrow strip of forest alongside a 2.2 kilometre section of the Tairua River, on land owned by TCDC, NZ Transport Agency Land Information NZ and a private land owner. The 13 hectare site is ecologically, culturally and recreationally significant but has a number of invasive weeds that, if left unchecked, could further degrade or even destroy the area’s natural beauty.

Ngati Hei, which has traditional travel routes and six pa sites within a kilometre of the grove, commissioned a restoration plan for the site, while others from the local community and the two councils were also interested in restoring the area. The site is deemed an SNA of regional importance by the regional council, which has been project managing the restoration.

Work to date has involved removing and controlling weeds, and planting native vegetation and re-grassing of exposed areas.

“The long-term goal for this project is for the total area of 13 hectares to be fully restored,” a report to the committee said. “It is anticipated that this could be achieved within a 10-year time frame, depending on available funding.”

The project is applying for further significant funding from the Ministry of the Environment to help move things forward. Large-scale restoration work is planned for next year if the funding comes through.

“The Hikuai project is in its infancy but it has already made significant strides,” said Cr Burdett.

“For its part the regional council will work hard in collaboration with others to ensure its continued success.”