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Published: 2016-01-13 00:00:00

It’s been ten years of top teamwork for the environment at Wharekawa on the eastern Coromandel coast.

The community-based Wharekawa Catchment Care Group is next week celebrating a decade of action involving local people and agencies such as Waikato Regional Council.

“It’s a real privilege to be working with high energy and effective groups such as the one at Wharekawa,” says the council’s new Hauraki-Coromandel manager Graeme Osborne.

“The group has made a huge difference to the quality of the local environment at Wharekawa with tree planting, weed eradication and other efforts to protect water quality in the harbour and the general health of the catchment.

“Our work with them is a great example of the results that can be achieved between organisations like ours and the community working together, and I congratulate them warmly on the occasion of their tenth anniversary.”

The Wharekawa Catchment Care Group works both independently and in partnership with local councils, forestry companies, roading contractors and the Department of Conservation.

The group, with encouragement from the council, was formed after the community saw a general decline in harbour quality over several decades. A plan looking at the state of the harbour’s catchment and how it could be improved was developed.

All unwanted weed species in the catchment area have been targeted by the group.

In particular, river and stream banks have been targeted for extensive weed control, and several riparian areas of the Wharekawa River have now been retired, fenced off and replanted with natives following control work.  Members have also carried out weed control on road reserve areas and Department of Conservation land, taking it on themselves to tackle troublesome weeds such as blue morning glory, wilding pine and blackberry.

Other highlights of the group’s work since it started have included:

  • work with Opoutere school to reduce its carbon footprint
  • extensive tree plantings
  • winning a prestigious Weedbusters education award, recognising the group’s weed management initiatives and their significant contribution toward raising education and awareness of weeds amongst the local community.

The group prioritises education, making information and promotional material available to members and the local community with a view to stopping new weed incursions before they become a bigger problem.  The local community board is always stocked with poster-size weed factsheets.

The group also runs a weed stall at local markets to provide information and increase awareness, and they have run a weed swap at the local community hall, where locals could bring their weeds for disposal and swap them for native plants supplied by the regional council.